Students on the Move: Walking and Biking to School
Students, families, staff and community members participated in Wiley Elementary’s Walk to School Day on October 3, 2012. These type of events raise awareness about how walking to school can be fun AND give students an opportunity to work towards their 60 minutes of physical activity per day, as well as the importance of safe routes to school.
Advocates for Health in Action has joined a group of experts who are meeting to talk about kids’ ability to walk and bicycle to school safely in Wake County.
The Wake Active Transportation Support Committee is comprised of certified bicycle safety instructors, municipal transportation planners and bicycle pedestrian coordinators, Wake County Public Schools Central Office staff, and community advocates. The group is meeting to strategize ways to promote walking and biking, while making it a safe alternative to sitting in the carpool line or riding the bus.
Several years ago, the American League of Bicyclists started a bicycling safety education program in Wake County. Three trailers equipped with kid-sized bicycles, helmets, cones and traffic signs and a written curriculum are available for use by Wake County Schools Healthful Living teachers or League Certified Instructors to teach kids how to bicycle safely.
Sadly, this equipment doesn’t get much use. The Committee is actively seeking help to update the trailers and bikes, and get them back into circulation. While the WCPSS staff are supportive of promoting the equipment and the curriculum, the fear is that teachers are so strapped for time that even if the equipment is updated and promoted, it will get little use.
One major barrier is that teachers have to go get the trailers, attach them to a car with a trailer hitch, and drive them to the school in order to use them. The team is now exploring other opportunities to use these resources in the community with other organizations that serve kids.
The good news is that the WCPSS staff are interested in identifying ways to help make walking and bicycling safer and more accessible to all school-age children and youth. The Committee is working alongside them to find ways to make this more of a reality.
Meanwhile, AHA has two NCSU graduate students working on a GIS mapping project that will give us a sense of the existing infrastructure (streetscapes, bike lanes, sidewalks, etc.) that would support walking and biking to school. Stay tuned for more information in future newsletters and meetings!