The Simple Joy of Walking and Biking to School

One of the biggest sacrifices we’ve made in the United States to prioritize the movement of automobiles over active transportation is the health and safety of children. Biking and walking to school has become increasingly rare while childhood obesity is on its way to becoming the norm.

In Oregon, one of the leading states, 30,000 children took part in Walk+Bike to School Day this week. Photo: BTA Oregon

But for at least one day a year, thousands of kids delight in getting to school under their own power. On Wednesday there were more than 1,700 separate walk and bike to school events held around the country.

Here’s a report from one of the leading states, courtesy of LeeAnne Fergason at BTA Oregon:

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the Walk+Bike Network are excited to announce that 260 Oregon schools participated in the 2013 International Walk+Bike to School Day on October 9th, coming in 4th in state-wide participation, just behind California (519 schools), Florida (284), and South Carolina (277)!

The BTA has been working since 1998 to encourage students to walk and bike on International Walk+Bike to School Day. Participation has increased from 47 schools and 7,000 students in 2004 to what we saw yesterday when 20% of Oregon’s 1,305 schools participated.

Maybe the best part of all was the students’ reactions. Fergason offered this sampling:

  • “I over heard kid say, ‘I love walking.’” -Burt Tate, Roseburg
  • “The health room is filled with scooters! and 7th grader with walk bike shoe lace tied to his head, ‘yeah, I’m starting a trend.’” -Cynthia Keifer, Beaverton
  • “Students are bragging that they walk almost everyday.” -Nicole Perry, Milwaukie
  • “One student said, ‘I want to ride to school EVERY day this year!’” -Julie Gefroh, Portland
  • “Teachers were saying, ‘This was AWESOME!’” -Katrina Hanson, Roseburg
  • “Kids shouted, ‘We should do this every month!’” -Brett Walter, Portland
  • “Kids are already asking when the next (event) is.” -Bobbi St. Clair, Grant’s Pass
  • “Kids said, ’That was cool!’” -Kim Ryhlick, Hood River

Network blog Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) also reported that events were a success in Vienna and Reston, Virginia, with a total of about 3,000 students walking and biking to school in those suburbs alone.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Greater Greater Washington looks at what Prince George’s County, Maryland, can learn from the sprawl repair in Atlanta. Together North Jersey shows it’s not just major cities that can pull off successful cycliovias. And Bike Delaware announces that the state of Maryland is pouring $3.2 million into bike projects.