Walk to School Day is October 5

Source: National Center for Safe Routes to School.
Source: National Center for Safe Routes to School.

20th Walk to School Day Inspires Communities and Mayors to Create Opportunities, Prioritize Safe Walking and Biking

Released by Colleen Oliver and Caroline Mozingo, National Center for Safe Routes to School, Chapel Hill NC

Step right up, Walk to School Day is here! Today, communities across the country are lacing up their sneakers in celebration of the 20th Walk to School Day in the US.

Students, parents, school and community members, mayors, and other local officials across the country will walk and bike to school on October 5 as a way to promote active and safe transportation to schools and other community destinations. Over 4,000 schools in 49 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico have registered Walk to School Day events on walkbiketoschool.org. And the total number of events is expected to grow as celebrations continue throughout October, Walk to School Month.

“The ability of people to safely walk and bicycle is a vital part of what makes communities thrive, and celebrating a safe, active trip to school helps create vibrant places we each call home,” said Nancy Pullen-Seufert, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, the coordinating agency for Walk to School Day. “Communities around the country are taking bold steps to improve transportation safety and create opportunities for physical activity in ways that help everyone feel a little more connected.”

Walk to School Day was started in 1997 by the Partnership for a Walkable America, and two mayors, Chicago Mayor Daley and Los Angeles Mayor Riordan, led the first events. Two decades later, more than 50,000 events have been held across the country, and mayors continue to show their support for the annual celebration.

“Walking to school can be one of the joys of life,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “It’s a time for families to bond, students to think about the day ahead, and everyone to get good exercise. Safe routes to campus make those things possible. On this 20th Walk to School Day, we renew our commitment to making our streets safer so that our young people can always feel good about getting to and from class in a way that makes their day healthier and more enjoyable.”

This fall, the National Center for Safe Routes to School is partnering with the US Department of Transportation’s Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets to encourage mayors to join events and talk about their communities’ commitments to child and youth pedestrian safety.

More than 1,500 mayors across the country have been invited to participate in the 20th Walk to School Day, and many are using the event to express their specific commitments to create places where children have more opportunities for physical activity. Mayor Lorenz in Powell, Ohio, will issue a proclamation emphasizing the importance of the event to his community, and Mayor Hartwell in Madison Heights, Mich., will announce a public art competition that promotes biking in the city’s downtown district. Other mayors plan to showcase their talents, such as Mayor Blackburn in Hood River, Oregon, who will strum the banjo while leading a walk to a local elementary school.

To learn more about the events and locations of registered US schools participating in Walk to School Day 2016, visit www.walktoschool.org/register.

Established in May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School helps support communities in changing their culture to support safe and active travel. The National Center assists states and communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. Its role includes providing technical support for US Walk to School Day and Bike to School Day; coordinating online registration, developing resources, and facilitating worldwide promotion and participation. Part of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, the National Center serves as the information clearinghouse for the Federal Safe Routes to School program with funding from the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.

For more information, visit www.saferoutesinfo.org or www.walkbiketoschool.org.

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Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.