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Walking to School

2011 December 5

By Amy Miller

My family lives in a village where we can walk to the post office, grocery store and pizza parlor. Most important of all, our children can walk to school, at least until sixth grade.

Nationally, only about 15 percent of children walk to school. This is a serious drop from when I was a kid. In 1969 about half of children 5 to 15 walked to school, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of parents said their children don’t walk because it was too far. A third said the danger of traffic scared them. But the truth is only 31 percent of children who live within a mile of school walked or biked compared to closer to 90 percent in 1969.

A national Safe Routes to School program tries to address these barriers. It encourages schools, for instance, to arrange for children to meet within a mile of school and travel in “walking school buses.” It suggests crossing signals, better enforcement of speed limits and teaching children pedestrian skills.

One program in California saw a 64 percent increase in walking the second year of their program. Many towns, including mine, have instituted Walk to School Days. South Berwick has one such day a month and the streets are filled with children, teachers and parents using the sidewalks and getting exercise.

When my daughter began walking to fourth grade in 2007, she and her friends were often nearly alone on the road. Today, her younger brother passes other kids walking, boys on bikes and several other parents making the mile trek from downtown.

EPA, which has joined the effort to get kids out of vehicles, notes that the location of a school plays a large role in how children travel. When neighborhood schools are closed, children are more likely to drive, resulting in more air pollution and less exercise.

My family often strays from our goal. When it rains really hard, when we are driving anyway, when we are rushed to get to karate or dance, we drive. But most of the time we walk. And on these trips we get to kick snowballs down the street, greet neighbors along the way and practice times tables. And it is on these days that I feel there is no higher priority for 20 minutes of our day.

About the author:  Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, seven chickens, two parakeets, dog and a great community.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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11 Responses leave one →
  1. Dennis Slade permalink
    December 5, 2011

    I recall as well walking to school as a child until my family moved out of town three miles from my school where I took the bus.

    The mouth of our current neighborhood to the elementary school where my daughter attends school is 1/4 of a mile. If not for the topography of the land, you could see the school from our neighborhood entrance. The issue is that there is no safe way to walk this 1/4 mile on a very busy street, passing by an extremely busy suburban intersection filled with impatient morning commuters. There is no sidewalk and the greenspace along the road is uneven with significant drop offs.

    I have contacted our County government about linking our neighborhood with a neighborhood across the street with a sidewalk and crosswalk which would allow the kids to walk to school. Of course, this type of expense is not a local imperative. I view these issues as zoning or land use issues and that the local jurisdictions should require the construction of safe routes to schools, especially when new schools like ours are planned and constructed. It is very short sided to not include safe routing to schools when new schools and neighborhoods are planned and constructed.

  2. Kiyohisa Tanada permalink
    December 5, 2011

    It is good to walk very.
    However, not only I merely walk, but also
    If they educate “right how to walk” to children and practice it, children improve more.
    It “the walking” of “the supermodel”
    This is basics of “how to walk correct beautifully”.
    I hope for the instruction in the school.

  3. DIANE CAUCCI permalink
    December 7, 2011

    BASED ON THE SCHOOLS LOCATION AND DISTANCE FROM NEIGHBORHOODS, HERE IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE NON-WORKNG ADULTS (EITHER RETIRED, ON WELFARE, ETC) TO PARTICIPATE IN HELPING REDUCE EDUCATION COSTS AND PROVIDE SAFETY TO THE GROUPS OF CHILDREN WALKING TO SCHOOL. BY VOLUNTEERING TO WALK THE ROUTES WITH CHILDREN PROVIDES SAFETY FROM TRAFFIC, BULLYING AND PREDITORS. AT THE SAME TIME, THE ADULT GETS THE WALKING EXERCISE VITAL TO GOOD HEALTH AT ANY AGE. SEEMS LIKE A WIN-WIN SITUATION.

  4. Amy Miller permalink
    December 9, 2011

    Great idea!

  5. Calgary marketing permalink
    December 10, 2011

    as a fitness trainer for 25 years previously I can’t believe how out of shape and overweight are youth of today are compared how they were 20 years ago.
    I have two beautiful daughters who are five and eight years old and on a regular basis they work out with me my basement at my gym.
    I’m always telling parents that the kids need more exercise..
    So I agree with you Amy 100%.
    As a Calgary Marketing company I’m always looking for great articles I hope you don’t mind if I post your article as far as creating a whole bunch of link backs your site so other parents who I work with can read about this for their kids well.
    Once again Amy thank you for the good information let’s hope parents read it.

  6. amy permalink
    December 12, 2011

    No problem.. you can link to it.

  7. Seo exprt permalink
    January 1, 2012

    This is very good.

  8. lapin nain permalink
    January 13, 2012

    lapin nain

    Thank you for sharing this valuable informative article. I am sure that it will help me a lot to know a lot. Waiting to know more from you.

  9. Francet permalink
    March 20, 2012

    I found the blog to be interesting and informative. Keep blogging. I will appreciate.
    Regard

  10. Ronin Athletics permalink
    February 26, 2013

    Walking to school is great for your personal health, and for native New Yorkers, another reason to study kickboxing in nyc

  11. ketty bill permalink
    April 16, 2013

    Walking to school is very good for health.

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