Safe Routes To School
In the 1960s, about half of kids walked or biked to school. Today, only 15 percent of kids get to school using foot power. While there are a host of reasons for these decreases, one thing is certain: kids today are significantly heavier than they were even a generation ago. This impacts the diseases they suffer from, when these illnesses start, and even the number of years they will live.
Obstacles to Walking
Even faced with this reality, parents can be understandably hesitant to let their kids walk or bike to school. Children may have to traverse wide, busy intersections, navigate broken or missing sidewalks, or feel unsafe because of neighborhood crime or loose dogs. We encourage you to take advantage of the cool spring mornings and walk your child to school. While you do, pay close attention to the issues they face along the way. Most likely, other children struggle with these barriers as well. You can do something to help create a safe route to school, and it’s easier than you might think!
What Can You Do?
Parents, community leaders, school administrators and city officials can work together to develop and maintain safe routes to school. This process will look different in every community, but a recent publication outlines a case study from Roeland Park, Kansas and offers readers a checklist to organize their own projects. LiveWell Johnson County and our partners, BikeWalkKC and the Shawnee Mission School District, with the support of Safe Kids Worldwide, developed the checklist around the “Six E’s” of best practice for safe routes to school. They are: evaluation, engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement and equity. Check out the publication here!