On October 3, thousands of students, parents and volunteers will walk or bicycle to school to celebrate Walk to School Day 2012, and registration is now officially open for the 16th annual event. Walk to School Day participation reached a record high in 2011 with more than 4,000 registered U.S. events, and that number is expected to rise once again in 2012.
Walk to School Day event registration is free and available to individuals and organizations holding an October event in the United States. Events that register on the Walk to School website, www.walkbiketoschool.org, will be displayed on an interactive U.S. map on the website, where neighboring communities, media and other organizations can identify who is walking in their area.
Registering a Walk to School Day event provides organizers access to free, downloadable materials on the newly redesigned website, including stickers, certificates and customizable fliers. They can also easily create and share a walking or bicycling to school route via the new Map-a-Route tool. Registrants can also subscribe to a weekly e-newsletter for six weeks in September and October with tips and resources for organizing a Walk to School Day event.
SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL
Walk to School Day is one way to get involved in New Jersey’s Safe Routes to School program — a nationwide effort to make walking and bicycling to school safe and appealing.
Greater Mercer TMA is working with schools and communities to help kids get fit, get healthy, and protect the planet. One way we’re doing this is through our involvement in the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.
SRTS is a federal, state, and local program to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school. programs examine conditions around schools and create activities to improve safety and accessibility, reduce traffic and air pollution around schools, and make bicycling and walking to school safer and more appealing, thus encouraging a healthy active lifestyle for kids.
SRTS programs bring a wide range of benefits to students and the community, including:
- increasing the health, mobility, and independence of school-age children,
- reducing congestion, air pollution and traffic conflicts around schools,
- helping students arrive at school ready to learn, and
- teaching safe pedestrian and bicyclist skills
GMTMA is the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s designated SRTS coordinator for Mercer and Ocean counties. At no cost, GMTMA can help your school and community implement a SRTS program by helping you with the following SRTS elements:
- Document existing conditions
- Identify assets, barriers, goals and actions
- Outline responsibilities and funding sources
Bike/Walk Events & Education Assistance
- Walking School Buses
- Bike Rodeos
- Safety education and “How To” teaching materials
Evaluation and Monitoring
- Establish baseline of existing conditions
- Student arrival/departure counts
- Parent/Caregiver surveys
- Measure progress and adjust program as needed
SRTS Infrastructure Program
NJDOT offers local governments and schools a grant program for the planning and implementation of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure projects near schools. This is a highly competitive program and communities who participate in non-infrastructure programs and activities, such as SRTS Travel Plans, School Wellness programs and school walk/bike activities may receive extra points on their grant applications.
Want to learn more? Contact GMTMA’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator Rebecca Hersh at firstname.lastname@example.org.