Today’s second annual Bike to School Day was a huge success with children at 33 San Francisco schools pedaling to class. Supervisor Carmen Chu rode tandem with the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Jason Serafino-Agar and dozens of kids to Sunset Elementary. A special rally at the school honored Principal Lee for encouraging walking and biking and celebrated the $500,000 federal Safe Routes to School grant that is helping students to ride and walk to school more often.
“Bike to School Day is a great way to encourage families and students to get active and improve their health,” said Supervisor Chu, who represents the Sunset District. “The City of San Francisco has been working to make streets more friendly for people on foot and on bike.”
The two-year Safe Routes to School program is a joint effort among city departments and community groups like the SF Bicycle Coalition and led by the SF Department of Public Health; the program is working to increase the number of students biking and walking to school through education and encouragement, improving the safety of streets. The program is in place at five San Francisco Elementary Schools this year and will be in 15 schools next year.
“The first year of San Francisco’s Safe Routes to School program has been huge success,” says Nik Kaestner, Director of Sustainability at the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). “Students and families have been biking and walking to school in greater numbers this year which helps the School District achieve our commitment to improving sustainability city-wide, and help parents to reduce their carbon footprint and have fun.”
“More and more San Franciscans are choosing to bike for transportation and San Francisco’s Safe Routes to School program is helping to make sure biking is a family activity,” says Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “As we work to educate students how to bike and walk safely, we create life-long healthy habits, create stronger communities and protect the environment.”
“I strive to instill the values of health and independence in my two children,” says Dr. Alex Wade who bikes with his two children, ages seven and two and is organizing Bike to School Day at McKinley Elementary School. “Our rides to school are a great part of our day, where we combine quality family time with outdoor activity.”
In San Francisco, one quarter of children are overweight and studies show that 75% of children who are overweight are expected to be overweight as adults, which translates into more cases of diabetes, asthma and other chronic diseases. A National Household Travel Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that a mere 13 percent of children (age five to 14 years old) walked or biked to school in 2009 compared with 48 percent of students in 1969. Studies show that 78% of school age children are not getting enough exercise and that this generation will likely be the first to have a lowered life expectancy than their parents.
“Safe Routes to Schools is one of the best, proven ways to improve conditions for walking and biking,” says Shahum. “Bike to School day is a great one day event that allows more kids and parents to experience firsthand how fun and easy bicycling to school can be.”
Read more about today’s Bike to School Day at SF Streetsblog. If you have stories about today’s Bike to School Day, please share them with jason(at)sfbike.org. If you took photos of today’s event, please tag them on flickr with ’sfbtsd.’