Program Manager, Maine Safe Routes to School Program
Maine Schools Celebrate Walk and Bike to School Month Throughout May!
(Portland, ME) May 1, 2013 – May is Walk and Bike to School Month in Maine and students in over 30 schools from Fort Kent to York and from Rangely to Lincolnville 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 field trips, bike trains and biking field trips (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.
May is also National Bike Month and a number of schools will hold bike-to-school events to celebrate the 2nd Annual National Bike to School Day on May 8. “Events are fairly easy to organize and build great local enthusiasm – and spring can be an especially good time to organize activities as the weather improves,” shared Darcy Whittemore, Program Manager for 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: Bangor, Bath, Biddeford, Bridgton, Camden, Fort Kent, Gray, Hampden, Kennebunk, Lewiston, Lincolnville, Madawaska, Madison, Milford, Monmouth, Naples, New Gloucester, North Berwick, Oakland, Pittsfield, Portland, Rangeley, Raymond, Saco, Scarborough, Sebago, South Portland, Topsham, Winterport and York. It is likely that additional schools also will participate.
For more information, visit MaineSafeRoutes.org
About the Maine Safe Routes to School Program – Established in 2001, the Maine Safe Routes to School Program assists communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. Federally-funded since 2005, the Maine Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program is a partnership of the Maine Department of Transportation, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, and communities throughout the state. The program provides technical support and over 190 Maine schools have participated in various Safe Routes to School activities, with many expanding their initiatives involving bicycle and pedestrian safety education, and encouragement and incentive programs to get more students and their families walking and biking.
In Maine, 90% of the Safe Routes to School Program funding (the maximum allowed under the SAFETEA-LU federal transportation bill) have been used to build physical infrastructure to make it safer for students to walk and bicycle to school. Infrastructure examples include sidewalks, crossing improvements, off-road connections, improved signage, etc. Since 2005 over 40 Maine communities have been awarded SRTS infrastructure improvements funding. “These federally-funded safety improvements have been extremely helpful in creating safer pedestrian and bicycle travel and reducing traffic congestion around schools in communities throughout the state,” said Dan Stewart, Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Manager for the Maine Department of Transportation.