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Children Commute to School on Their Own Two Feet on October 3, International Walk & Bike to School Day
Augusta, ME – 09/27/12 – Hundreds of Maine children will walk or bike to school with family members, school staff and volunteers in celebration of International Walk to School Day, Wednesday, October 3. Community members and school staff join together to host festive walk and bike to school events across the state throughout October, which is International Walk and Bike to School Month, and some schools will continue holding events throughout the fall.
A number of students head to school via “walking school buses” (children walking in groups under adult supervision) and others via “bike trains” (groups bicycling under adult supervision). Participating schools are located from York to Fort Kent and Lincoln to Kingfield, as well as many points in between.
“Each year, more and more schools in Maine are involved in encouraging kids to begin the habit of walking and biking safely to school, helping to build these important life skills for an entire generation”, said Nancy Grant, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. The U.S. public health initiative Healthy People 2020 recognizes walking and bicycling to school as an opportunity to increase physical activity among children and adolescents five to fifteen years of age.
Maine’s federally funded Safe Routes to School Program — a program of the Maine Department of Transportation, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and communities throughout the state — supports local efforts to improve safety and increase walking and bicycling to school. In addition, many schools participate in presentations from the Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Program — available at no-cost to all interested schools. These programs have been recognized as national models for keeping children safe from traffic dangers while walking and bicycling to school.
Since Maine’s program began in 2001, more than 150 schools have become involved. Using federal funds, more than 50 communities have been approved for infrastructure improvements to make walking and biking safer near schools.
“These federally funded safety improvements have been extremely helpful in creating safer pedestrian and bicycle travel around schools in communities throughout the state,” said Dan Stewart, MaineDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager.
Two of the major goals of the Safe Routes to School Program are improved safety and increased physical activity to fight childhood obesity. In addition, Walk and Bike to School programs help to ease traffic congestion, boost academic performance, improve classroom behavior, improve air quality and save school districts money on busing costs.
The program has three regional encouragement and planning coordinators: Darcy Whittemore (saferoutes@BikeMaine.org) in the central part of the state, Sarah Cushman (firstname.lastname@example.org) in southern Maine, and Jim Fisher (email@example.com) in eastern Maine. For more information or details about the October 3rd events, please e-mail them or call 207-623-4511.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has been working since 1992 to make Maine a better place to bicycle. The coalition advocates for Maine cyclists at the Legislature and in Washington, D.C., teaches bicycle and pedestrian safety to thousands of Maine schoolchildren each year, partners with state agencies on a Share the Road media campaign and serves as a resource on local bicycling issues.
Editor’s Note: Click here to find a list of communities that are having walk and bike to school events
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