By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 26, 2012 at 9:36 AM

Next week is International Walk to School Day and in preparation, I heard a Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin representative pitch the Safe Routes to Schools program to the PTO at our school.

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.


Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.