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Maine Schools Celebrate Bike and Walk to School Month Throughout May! (Press Release)

Darcy Whittemore
Program Manager, Maine Safe Routes to School Program
Bicycle Coalition of Maine
(207) 623-4511

Maine Schools Celebrate Bike and Walk to School Month Throughout May!

(Portland, ME) May 1, 2014 – May is Bike and Walk to School Month in Maine and students in over 30 schools from Madawaska to York and from Andover to Machias have announced that they will be celebrating as they commute on foot or by bicycle. A list of activities, dates and locations is available on-line here.
Parents, teachers, students, and volunteers at each school have organized fun and engaging activities such as walking school buses (children walking with adult supervision) and Walking Wednesdays, Footloose Fridays and bike trains (groups bicycling with adult supervision), as well as bike safety rodeos and after-school bike clubs. Some schools will hold one-day celebrations, while others plan walk and bike to school events for a whole month or the entire spring.
Rebecca Drewette-Card, a parent and one of the organizers of walk to school days at Woodside Elementary School in Topsham, told us, “At Woodside, our walk and bike to school events have been a great way to build community while encouraging healthy activities. Students are responding positively to our events. We have four planned for this spring!”
At the Ella P. Burr School in Lincoln, students, parents, and walk organizers are so excited about their walk to school days that they started holding them 2 weeks early! Sarah Sutherland, the Active Community Environment Team coordinator for the Lincoln region, has helped organize the “Walking Wednesdays” program that has galvanized the whole community. “Here in Lincoln, parents have taken it upon themselves to start the program early and add a second day of the week to put a positive spin on Saturday school days being held as make up days for all the snow days the school had this winter.” Students, parents, school staff, and even the town manager participate in the walks to school that occur every Wednesday in the both the fall and spring. Public safety officials have also assisted with escorting the “walking school bus” through all of the intersections. “At times, they have used a fire truck to stop traffic for as many as 110 people to cross the road safely!” Sutherland added, “Kids really look forward to walking to school – it’s great exercise and helps to create life-long healthy habits.”
May is also National Bike Month and a number of schools will hold bike-to-school events to celebrate the 3rd Annual National Bike to School Day on May 7. At the Geiger School in Lewiston, a Bike to School Day ride is planned for Wednesday the 7th. Parent and ride organizer, Bruce Hall reported, “We’re expecting students, parents, community members, and even the local law enforcement officer to join in the bike ride to school.” A celebration at school will include snacks donated by a local bike shop, along with stickers and bike pins provided by the Maine Safe Routes to School Program.
Throughout the year, 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, build life-long transportation skills, and increase physical activity to fight childhood obesity. A number of studies demonstrate the academic performance benefits to children who walk and bike before the beginning of the school day. “Students arrive at school alert and ready to learn. So this program is very much a win-win for students, families and school staff,” said Nancy Grant, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.
Communities already registered to participate in walk and bike activities this spring include: Andover, Biddeford, Brunswick, Cutler, Hallowell, Howland, Indian Township, Kennebunk, Lewiston, Lincoln, Machias, Madawaska, Madison, Monmouth, Old Town, Pittsfield, Portland, Scarborough, Solon, South Portland, Strong, Topsham, Waterville and York. It is likely that additional schools also will participate.
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About the Maine Safe Routes to School Program:
The Maine Safe Routes to School-Walk and Bike to School Program is a statewide effort among Maine communities to increase bicycling and walking to school for improved public safety, public health, fiscal responsibility, and a cleaner environment. The Maine Safe Routes to School Program is part of the national, federally-funded, Safe Routes to School Program.
In partnership with the Maine Department of Transportation, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine provides staff support and resources to schools and communities to increase the number of students walking and bicycling to school. Walking and bicycling is a great way for kids to be healthy and enjoy Maine’s beautiful outdoors!
About the Bicycle Coalition of Maine:
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide voice of cyclists. Since 1992, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has led the effort to make Maine better for bicycling by protecting the rights and safety of cyclists through education, advocacy, legislation and encouragement. We support biking for health, transportation, recreation and fun.