Childhood treasures and safe routes

While attending a Parent as Teacher playgroup at Washington Elementary School (great program btw) this morning, I caught sight of two child size bikes with posters attached to each. The posters announced that the bikes will be raffled prizes to top attendance students.

Curious and now on the lookout for bike stories, I stepped into the office to ask some questions. It turns out that Washington Elementary, like many other neighborhood schools in Elgin, has a very high walking to school population (about 95%). Children are late or miss school for many reasons, but at least some of the reasons can be reduced with a bit of an incentive like the possibility of a prize, and what better prize than a new bike!

With 95% of children walking to school, it brings to mind questions of how do we as a community support safe routes to get to school. Safe sidewalks are an important part of the equation, whether it is design, clear of debris or snow, or the behavior of other street users (i.e. cars). Washington Elementary also has bike racks (installed after a fundraiser by Elgin's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee) by the south east entrance and on my weekly visits I have rarely seen them empty, even before we lock up to it. If you want to find out more about safe route advocacy and generally all kinds of benefits of walking or biking to school, you can start with the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

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