Monday, May 21 , 2018, 5:14 am | Fair 52º


Local Students Gearing Up for Bike to School Day

Children in Goleta, Santa Barbara and Montecito will 'walk and roll' on May 18

On May 18, more than 20 elementary and secondary schools in Goleta, Santa Barbara and Montecito will participate in Bike to School Day.

The event encourages children to use a bicycle to get to and from school on this specially marked day. Schools often make this a “walk and roll” event — encouraging any form of alternative transportation to get to school.

Festive greeting tables, the school band playing, donated prizes and healthy snacks welcome children who walk or roll to school on this day. We encourage parents, teachers and community leaders to get involved and walk or roll with the children for fun and for exercise.

The goals of the event are far-reaching. To encourage physical and mental fitness through a healthy and active lifestyle, to share the joys of walking and biking to school, to decrease traffic congestion and speed near schools and to reduce air and water pollution. Events such as Bike to School Day give some people the opportunity and motivation to try something new for a day, in the company of others. Once children and parents discover the joys of walking and biking through such events, they are encouraged to continue on their own.

The Safe Routes to School program is the coordinating body for this event. The event is planned in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition’s month-long celebration for the bicycle, Cycle MAYnia.

So far, the following schools plan to participate in the May 18 Bike to School Day: Monroe, Santa Barbara Community Academy, Washington, El Camino, Ellwood, Peabody, Hollister, Goleta Family School, Monte Vista, Cold Spring, Hope, Vieja Valley, Harding, Foothill, Cleveland, Kellogg, Adams and Mountain View elementary schools; Goleta Valley, Santa Barbara and La Cumbre junior high schools, and San Marcos and Santa Barbara high schools. More are expected to come on board!

Thirty years ago, more than 66 percent of all children walked to school. Today, only 13 percent of American children walk or bike to school. The consequences are worrisome: Children have sedentary lifestyles; obesity, diabetes and heart disease rates for children are climbing; and behavioral problems are increasing. About 25 percent of morning rush-hour traffic consists of people driving their children to school.

We need to reverse this alarming trend. Bike to School Day is a good place to start.

— Kim Stanley-Zimmerman is the Safe Routes to School coordinator for the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation.

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