REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. – At least 57 schools in San Mateo County participated in International Walk to School Day on October 5, helping raise awareness of the need to create safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists and emphasize the importance of physical activity.
The United States established Walk to School Day in 1997 and joined Canada and Great Britain three years later to create International Walk to School Day. The campaign began with the simple goal of encouraging children and parents to walk to school together on a designated day; however, it has become an event with a much larger purpose, reminding everyone of the health benefits of regular activity and the need for safe places for communities to walk and bike.
This year in San Mateo County, coordinators from 31 schools in eight school districts reported a total of 4,272 students walking to school, 764 biking, 530 carpooling, 292 taking the school bus, and 185 taking public transit. 2,482 students got to school in single-family vehicles—a number we hope to reduce significantly over the course of the next year. Most schools used tally charts to collect this data, with students using sticker dots to report how they got to school. A number of schools reported seeing significantly reduced traffic on October 5 because of a dramatically lower number of cars dropping students off.
"International Walk to School Day gives children, parents, school staff, and community leaders an opportunity to join people around the world in an event that celebrates and promotes the many benefits of walking," said Theresa Vallez-Kelly, Safe Routes to School Coordinator at the San Mateo County Office of Education. "Walking to school reduces traffic congestion, improves air quality, and is a fun way to get some exercise!"
The San Mateo County Office of Education will continue to work to raise awareness of pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, and environmental concerns through its Safe Routes to School program. We look forward to seeing students walking and biking throughout the school year and are excited to help coordinate next year's event on October 4, 2017.