(April 21, 2016) Nationwide the rate of kids biking or walking to school has been on the decline since the 1970's while the risk of kids' physical health and well-being associated with inactivity have risen. In Portland, we've begun to reverse the trends by increasing the percentage of kids biking or walking to school by 35 percent since 2006.
Portland's Safe Routes to School program has grown from just 8 partner schools in 2005 to over 100 partner schools across five school districts today. Safe Routes strives to make walking, biking and rolling around neighborhoods and schools fun, easy, safe, and healthy for all students and families while reducing congestion around schools. Encouragement through a variety of activities and campaigns is just one of the ways they do this.
In gearing up for the nice weather, Safe Routes will host a Spring Walk + Bike + Roll Fair on Saturday, April 23 from 10:00am to 2:00pm at Kelly Elementary School, 9030 SE Cooper. This is a family-fun event to encourage families to dust off those walking shoes and get that old bike out of the garage. Safe Routes and community partners come together to offer a bike rodeo, free minor bike repair and fix-a-flat tutorials, $6 helmet sales, map reading and route planning help, free lunch, a raffle, and a family bike ride at 1:00pm.
This event also offers support for families who want to participate in Walk + Bike to School Challenge Month in May. The Walk + Bike Challenge is hosted by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and is a friendly competition aimed at encouraging more kids and families to walk and bike to and from school during the month of May. During the Challenge, school coordinators track the number of students participating with prizes going to the schools achieving the best performance in several categories.
Wednesday, May 4 is National Bike to School Day, and during that week Bike Fairies will make visits to partnering schools to reward students who bike or scoot to school by placing special prize packets on bikes and scooters parked at the school. Safe Routes coordinators and parent volunteers can find additional ideas and Bike + Walk resources here to help make the month of May fun and successful for Portland students.