On Wednesday, thousands of students, parents and communities representing more than 3,300 schools across the United States walked and bicycled to school to celebrate International Walk to School Day.
This one-day event was part of an international effort to encourage more families to get out of their cars and on to their feet to enjoy the many benefits of safely walking and bicycling to school.
Brightly-clad Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) Safe Routes to School staff, along with mascot Reflectosaurus, joined students of Ravenwood Elementary School in Eagle River on their walk to school. Their mission was to, through example, education and fun activity, promote and encourage safe habits in students. These include walking defensively, wearing bright colors and augmenting clothing with reflective items to help motorists see them during Alaska’s darker fall and winter months.
“The purpose of the Safe Routes to School Program is to encourage and enable children grades K through 8 to walk and bike to school, and to be able to do that safely. This presents special challenges but reflectors really help,” said DOT&PF Safe Routes to School Coordinator Steve Soenksen.
When walking to or from school DOT&PF also encourages students to follow the six simple steps to staying safe:
When walking, stop at every curb or edge.
Always look and listen, especially while crossing. Look left; look right; then left again, before stepping past any curb or edge.
Always wear a helmet when riding a bike.
Always ride your bike in the same direction as traffic.
Know what signs say. When walking or riding, follow all traffic signs and signals.
When riding, always stop; look left; look right; then left again before pulling out of a driveway. Be especially careful around cars that can turn in front of you!