post by Kelsey Staberg
International Walk to School Day was established in 1995 with the central mission of developing a stronger sense of community and creating a safer environment for kids to walk to school, and has now gained the support of over 40 countries with an International Walk to School Month initiative. October 5th, 2011 brings families, neighbors, school officials, and community leaders together to participate in a community-oriented event.
International Walk to School day in the USA is connected to the Safe Routes to Schools program, which provides resources, volunteers, and financial support to expand the events and reach a wider range of communities. Some of the walks rally for safer and improved streets, raising concern for the environment by reducing traffic congestion and pollution, and increasing overall awareness of how “walkable” a community is and where improvements can be made. Some of the activities have resulted in greater enforcement on driving safety in school zones, as well as improved infrastructure such as sidewalks for pedestrians.
The Twin Cities Bike Walk Week (October 3rd-9th) hosts a wide range of activities throughout the week to support safe walking and biking routes with inner city streets, as well as a happier and healthier student population. Saint Paul’s Nice Ride Tour, Bicycling as Transportation Presentation, Winter Cycling Safety Classes, Basic Bike Maintenance Lunch and Learn, and Downtown Commuter Fairs are just a few of the events to promote community involvement and educate the public on pedestrian/bicycle safety.
Various communities around the world have created different goals for the walk, but this is ultimately a global effort to create communities that are a safe place to walk!