Encouraging Students to Walk and Bike to School has Come to CO’s Capital
Occasionally, during my youth, I would hear my dad proclaim, “When I was your age, I walked uphill both ways AND in waist deep snow.”AnodtohisMinnesotaupbringing. While
an eye roll inevitably followed, there is at least some truth to this statement for his generation. 50 years ago, almost half of all students either walked or biked to school. Today, nearly 90% of students are driven or take the bus. This is why we need Safe Routes to School (SRTS).
At its core, SRTS is a program that seeks to increase the number of students who walk and bike to school. It identifies safe walking and bicycling routes in neighborhoods surrounding schools, and encourages children and families to walk or bike between home and school. A two-day course teaches students bicycling and walking safety, including individual instruction if they are still learning how to ride a bike, and features walking and bicycling rodeos.
SRTS programs and routes have benefitted many communities in Colorado including many thousands of youth in Denver. The Colora- do Department of Transportation (CDOT) manages the funds, which can be applied for through a grant process. Local programming is sustained through a partnership between the Department of Environmental Health and several non-profits including BikeDenver, WalkDenver, and Bicycle Colorado. Thanks to the dedication of Ashley Frederick, the Denver Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Denver recently was awarded grant funding to administer the SRTS program in ten DPS elementary schools over the next two years. BikeDenver is excited to announce that it will begin programming in Fall 2016.
Here are some quick, easy suggestions to help your family start biking or walking in time for school this fall:
BE ACTIVE! Get outside as a family and regularly go for a walk, hike, or a bike ride.
HELP MAINTAIN your kids’ bikes by fixing flats. Flat tires are the most common issue for kids, so help them out, and teach them too!
ORGANIZE a walking school bus or bike train in your community in four easy steps:
- Talk to other parents in your neighborhood to decide on a safe and convenient meeting location.
- Create a schedule to identify the parent responsible for leading the children to school each day.
- Demonstrate safe walking and bicycling for the kids.
- Have fun!
If you would like to see SRTS programming in your kids’ school, reach out to your principal and encourage the school to get involved.
Happy Riding Denver!