Children at more than 60 schools in Portland made active transportation their choice for healthy school commuting as part of International “Walk + Bike to School Day” today. At Lewis Elementary School in southeast Portland, more than 200 children arrived at school together to meet teachers, parents and community leaders for a discussion about the benefits of being healthy and safe on city streets.
"We have an epidemic of childhood obesity in this country, and physical activity in the form of walking and biking is one of the best ways to attack the problem,” said Dr. Lucy Douglass, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente. “Walking and biking to and from school is a great way for kids to get some exercise, especially when there's often no longer a P.E. class at school when they get there."
Douglass was joined by State Senator Diane Rosenbaum, Oregon Department of Transportation Region 1 Manager Jason Tell, Lewis Elementary Principal Tim Lauer, Portland Public School Board Member Greg Belisle, Portland Timbers Ambassador Scot Thompson and representatives from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Portland Police Bureau and Portland Bureau of Transportation.
“I support neighborhood routes that allow kids to walk and ride their bikes to school because it keeps kids safe, healthy and ready to learn,” Sen. Rosenbaum said.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation hosted the event and celebrated eight years of working to increase the percentage of students who get to school actively with its Safe Routes to School program.
The Transportation Bureau shared research that said children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day and that the rate of children walking and biking to school in America has dropped during the past few decades as the rate of children who are obese has simultaneously tripled.
In addition, Transportation Bureau staff shared that recent reports show 40 percent of the trips to Portland elementary schools are made on foot or by bike, which is a nine percent increase since Safe Routes to School began and a higher percentage than the national average of 12 percent. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is committed to improving childhood health by showing students and families that walking and biking to school is fun, easy and healthy.