Each time I sit down to write this column, I continue to be amazed by the multitude and magnitude of activities going on around the country that relate to Safe Routes to School programs and goals.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood walked to school with his grandchildren in April and helped elevate the term and practice of a "walking school bus" to a whole new level.
Oprah Winfrey's No Phone Zone pledge, National No Phone Zone Day and related media campaign are putting a real face and force behind the "madness" of distracted driving. This issue is a real concern for the SRTS community too as we want to try to make the roads as safe as possible for pedestrians and bicyclists who are headed to school. Consider leveraging Oprah's coverage of this issue to bring more visibility to safe walking and bicycling for your SRTS program.
And just this week, the Childhood Obesity Task Force, a White House Task Force established as a part of the Let's Move! Campaign, released an action plan to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Safe Routes to School is discussed within the Physical Activity section of the report and several SRTS-related recommendations are made, including a benchmark for success — to "increase by 50% by 2015 the percentage of children ages 5-18 taking safe walking and biking trips to and from school."
As the action plan points out, "an increase of 50% would mean that 19.5% of school trips would be by biking or walking," which is an ambitious goal, so let's continue our efforts to help communities make routes to and from school safer and to encourage more families and kids to walk and bike to school with that goal in mind.
The National Center is here to support SRTS efforts with a variety of different resources. Registration is now open for 2010 Walk to School events. Let us know what you have planned for October 6, 2010. Have you checked out the new SRTS resource for law enforcement to learn about how officers can join the effort? Also, the upcoming SRTS webinar will address "Ensuring Your Safe Routes to School Program Includes Children with Disabilities." Is this an area of opportunity for a SRTS program in your community?
As Secretary LaHood said in his blog, "to those who want to get around their communities on foot or by pedal power — let's move!" I would add one word to that sentiment and say — let's move together!