Thousands of students in more than 200 schools across Minnesota will participate in International Walk and Bike to School Day Oct. 4. The annual event, sponsored by Minnesota Safe Routes to School, encourages students and parents to get outside, increase their physical activity, teach pedestrian and bicycle safety, reduce traffic congestion and strengthen connections between families, schools and communities while walking and biking to school.
“Walking and biking to school or work are great ways to skip traffic, get a little exercise and enjoy beautiful Minnesota,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “I encourage Minnesota students and their families to participate in Walk and Bike to School Day on Oct. 4. I hope to see you out there.”
Dave Cowan, Walk and Bike to School Day coordinator, said this day gets families, schools and communities thinking about what it might be like if students in their neighborhoods walked and bicycled to school year-round.
“The result is transformative,” said Cowan. “Safely walking and bicycling is an important life skill we should be teaching our youth. This day is a great way to encourage students to use that knowledge all through their lives while building physical activity into their daily routine.”
He said schools can register their Walk and Bike to School Day event at www.walkbiketoschool.org.
Participants can also join in the Walk to School Day photo contest by submitting photos on the MnSRTS Facebook page with the hashtag #mnwalks. Learn more at www.mnsaferoutestoschool.org under the current programs tab.
Cowan said the event is an opportunity for children who typically ride a school bus and those who live in areas with bike friendly paths to school to walk and bike to school. Many schools participate in a “walking school bus” event by arranging for school buses to drop off students at a nearby park or other safe locations to finish the trip on foot. The drop-off option also can be used for students who are usually driven to school in private vehicles.
Walk to School Day also encourages parents and community members to begin thinking about the walkability and bikeability of their neighborhoods. A walkability checklist helps walkers assess what makes the walking environment inviting and safe, and identify existing barriers. After the assessment, schools and communities can work to make a plan for improvements.
For more information, visit www.walkbiketoschool.org.