On October 3, 2012, over 40 countries participated in International Walk and Bike to School Day. Locally, the Santa Clara Safe Routes to School (SR2S) team worked with six Santa Clara schools in an effort to promote active commutes, reduce traffic congestion, and generate awareness for more walkable and bikeable communities. Students were encouraged to use active transportation to get to school by walking, riding a bicycle, or using a scooter or skateboard. Once at school, they were offered rewards to recognize their positive efforts.
At Juan Cabrillo Middle School, students were greeted with lively music and snacks as they arrived by foot, on bikes, skateboard, and scooters. The school’s Leadership Class, comprised of twenty-five superb students, spearheaded the planning and execution of this grand event. The club made posters to advertise the event weeks before and also helped plan all the details for the big morning. Posters and balloons decorated the court yard along with a ‘Map Your Route’ table for students to show where they walked or biked from, a refreshments table where students could refuel and rehydrate, and a prize table that showcased raffle prizes including locks, helmets, water hydration packs, and bike lights. To ensure the accurate tracking of participants, four groups of leadership students were positioned around the boundaries of the school to give students a hand stamp and raffle ticket as they approached the school. The hand stamp allowed students to get a snack and drink while the raffle ticket allowed them to be entered in the drawing. The energy level was high that morning as students arrived to the sounds of music and interactive activities. The event generated a lot of enthusiasm among the student body and reminded everyone that walking and biking to school can be fun, healthy, and rewarding.
Four elementary schools also celebrated International Walk and Bike to School Day. Bowers, Briarwood, Haman, and Montague elementary schools greeted students with a Hydration Station and Travel Tally Chart. The Hydration Station included apple juice, water, clementines, and stickers for students who participated by either walking or rolling (bicycling, skateboarding, or scootering), and those who took the bus.The Travel Tally Chart had five modes of transportation to choose from: Walking, Rolling, Bus/Transit, Car, or Carpool. Students were asked to place a sticker dot based on how they arrived at school that morning, and those that walked or biked were eager to display their accomplishment on the board. Of the hundreds of students that participated in this activity 41% at Bowers, 31% at Briarwood, 56% at Haman, and 61% at Montague indicated that they walked or rolled to school. All schools showed increase in active commutes, considering most schools average about 24% of walkers and bikers. Sutter Elementary will be celebrating Walk and Bike to School Week from October 8-12.
The students and parents at all school sites expressed great interest in the event. One parent stated, “This is great. My son told me this morning that we couldn’t drive to school today, that we needed to put on our walking shoes.” This was a great event to showcase the many benefits active commutes offers to students, parents, and the entire community around schools. All of the participating schools expressed interest in continuing to promote more walking and biking to school through similar events and activities.
A big thank you to Silicon Valley Power, who generously donated healthy snacks and refreshments for all participating schools!