According to its Facebook page, The Safe Routes to School National Partnership includes "more than 600 nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools and professionals working together to advance the Safe Routes to School movement in the United States."
The program is funded by the Wisconsin DOT and federal transportation dollars in the Badger State.
When I was a kid that's how most people got to school, but for myriad reasons, that's no longer the case. In fact, only around 10-14% get to school on foot power.
So, the Bike Federation folks are working with MPS schools to take us back to the future, offering a range of services to schools. They do education programs, bringing bikes and helmets and other materials to schools to teach kids safe riding in the street (which is the law after age 10) and on the sidewalk (which is the law before age 10).
Via in-school and after school programs, they show kids and families safe riding skills, safe routing to avoid dangerous thoroughfares and pedestrian safety.
They explain walking school bus and bike trains to get groups of kids to school safely, and they survey families to find out what concerns prevent them walking and riding to school. The results are shared in a national database to help improve walking and riding to school on a bigger level.
At the presentation I heard that the federation has worked with 15,000 MPS kids at more than 25 school sites annually. They've given away 150 bikes, 10,000 helmets and installed dozens of bike racks at schools.
So, next week, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, celebrate International Walk to School Day – if you can – by riding or walking to school. It's good exercise, good for the environment and it's fun.
At one MPS, Riverside, the Phy Ed curriculum includes biking along the Oak Leaf trail. Bikes and helmets were provided through a wellness grant and many staff members give up their prep period to ride along with PE classes. Riverside's Wellness program also runs after school biking trips including a Saturday day trip to the Elroy/Sparta Trail.
And the bikes racks outside the school (3 or 4 of them) are filled everyday...I guess when several of the founders of the RW24 teach there, it makes sense.
When I was a kid I commuted to school by bike all the time. Then my friends got old enough to drive a car, so I packed the bike away. Glad that didn't last too long. Nice to see we're bringing this kind of joy and exercise back to the kids.
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