Safe Routes to School

srts_logo1In 1969, 42 percent of students walked or bicycled to school.

In 2001, 16 percent of students between the ages of 5 and 15 walked or bicycled to or from school.  Less than half of students living within a mile of school walk or bike to school even once a week.

Is there any wonder there’s a child obesity epidemic?

The Safe Routes to School (SR2S) state and federal programs are aimed at reversing those trends.  The program pursues 5 – E’s to help get more kids walking and biking to school:  engineering, enforcement, encouragement, education and evaluation.

The good news is there’s SR2S grant money to help schools pursue this.  M-DOT is projecting over $6 million in grants for 2009.  Over 350 Michigan schools are already participating.

Tonight some of us gave a presentation to the School Board of Royal Oak and encouraged them to participate in this program.  It certainly seemed to many in attendance that this was a good idea.

Coincidentally, the school board meeting was held in my old (and now closed) elementary school.  I hadn’t been in the building for 25 years .  I noted that I almost always walked to school back then.

What can you do to help get your school district interested in SR2S?

Fortunately the Michigan SR2S and the National Center for SR2S are great web sites and a great place to get better acquainted with the program.  And since this program addresses student health and safety — and provides funding — it should be a relatively easy sell.

There’s also the upcoming annual statewide SR2S meeting on Monday, January 26, 2009 and it’s free.  It may be a simple “ask” to get a school representative at that meeting.

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