At the risk of sounding like a bunch of “old fogies,” we remember walking to school when we were kids.
No, it wasn’t 5 miles each way and it wasn’t snowing, but the days of catching a ride with Mom were few and far between. Back in the day, that’s how it was. If it was within walking distance, you were walking to school.
Today, like much else, it’s a very different picture. The vast majority of kids show up to school in a vehicle.
Within the span of one generation, the percentage of children walking or bicycling to school has dropped dramatically — from approximately 50 percent in 1969 to just 13 percent in 2009. But there are groups out there looking to change that and put the equation back in balance.
Among those groups is the Indiana Safe Routes to School Partnership. It’s encouraging schools and parents throughout the state to help students walk or bike to school on National Walk to School Day, which is set for Wednesday.
If the organization doesn’t ring a bell, it should. To get kids to take active transportation to school, Safe Routes to School is doing more than just talking. Administered by the Indiana Department of Transportation, it makes federal funding available for infrastructure projects that provide safe routes to school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Many cities in our area have been on the receiving end of that funding.
In Walton, $250,000 was awarded to build sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps and signs along roads leading to Thompson Elementary School.
Galveston Elementary School has new sidewalks on Maple and Woodward streets. Before the Safe Routes to School grant, there were no sidewalks leading to the elementary school, forcing students to walk in the street.
Logansport has completed more than one project using the program. It’s been awarded money to build better sidewalks for students at Franklin and Columbia elementary schools, and up to $246,158 for sidewalks, cross walks and curbs surrounding Fairview Elementary School.
In Delphi, a $250,000 grant helped build trails and accessible ramps. In response to the grant announcement earlier this year, Delphi Mayor Randy Strasser said many of the routes students take are incomplete, forcing them to walk in the street until reaching a point where a sidewalk starts again.
Clearly, the Safe Routes to School program has had an impact on our communities. Now, it’s time to return the favor.
We encourage you to participate in Wednesday’s Walk to School Day. If you do, you’ll be among thousands of communities across the country making a statement that safe paths for pedestrians and the health of our kids are important.
If your child’s school isn’t participating in an official event, you can still participate as an individual.
If nothing else, it’ll be fun.
Trust us. We have experience walking to school.
THE ISSUE Walk to School Day. OUR VIEW