This Wednesday is National Bike to School Day — a day when thousands of students, families and community partners around the country celebrate the benefits of walking and biking to school. Not only is it a great way to start and end the day, it is an easy way to get in your daily dose of exercise.
In addition, celebrating National Bike and Walk to School Day helps to raise community awareness about bicycle and pedestrian safety and maintaining safe routes to schools.
Safe Routes to School (SRTS)
SRTS is a federal program designed to improve the well-being of children by improving walking and bicycling conditions on the route to school and enabling and encouraging children to walk and bike these routes.
Alexandria’s SRTS efforts are made possible by grants from VDOT, the Kaiser Foundation and City Capital Improvement Project funds and include:
- On-the-ground safety improvements at schools including new sidewalks, crossing improvements, speed limit reductions, bicycle parking and bicycle lanes
- Partnering with the Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA), and Trails for Youth to provide in-school pedestrian and bicycle safety lessons for students
- School walking maps provided for any K-8 school that commits to SRTS efforts
- Evaluation of students’ walking and bicycling habits, including surveys of teachers conducted by ACPS
Throughout the 2016-17 school year, Alexandria has been conducting safe routes to school walk audits for all elementary schools, some of which have already been completed.
Programs in Our Schools
- Charles Barrett Elementary hosts weekly Walking Wednesday programs where families walk together – often via “Walking School Buses” led by one or more parents who “pick up” other neighborhood kids on the way to school. They also provide incentives for students who walk often and holds bicycle safety rodeos for 4th and 5th graders.
- George Mason Elementary holds bicycle safety rodeos with WABA and encourages students to walk or bicycle several times a week by providing prizes and punch cards for “frequent walkers.”
- James K. Polk Elementary is one of nine schools in the entire U.S. to pilot a new children’s pedestrian safety education curriculum through the National Center for Safe Routes to School.
- Mount Vernon Elementary School received a Kaiser Foundation grant to work with Trails for Youth to educate and encourage students about walking and bicycling to school. The school also recently completed Bicycling in the Schools (BITS) — a grant-funded program that teaches students bicycling and bike safety skills as a unit within the physical education curriculum.
- Francis Hammond Middle School has been teaching all sixth and seventh-grade physical education students a three-week course on bicycle safety. The school has 33 bicycles and helmets and federal Safe Routes to School funding has allowed Hammond to purchase a video camera and helmet camera to assist in bicycle safety education.
Get Ready for Bike and Walk to School Day
Learn more about Safe Routes to Schools, the walk audits and obtain school walking maps on the City of Alexandria’s website. Then, tune up your bike or ready your walking shoes and plan your route to school on Wednesday.
Health and Wellness at ACPS
Celebrating Bike and Walk to School Day is in keeping with our ACPS2020 Strategic Plan Goal 5: Health and Wellness – ACPS will promote efforts to enable students to be healthy and ready to learn.