NJDOT highlights international ‘Walk to School Day’ statewide
(Trenton) - In an effort to encourage New Jersey’s children to walk and bike to school, New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) Commissioner James Simpson today joined transportation and education officials across the country to highlight and promote national “Walk to School Day”.
“Walk to School Day encourages physical fitness while raising awareness among all who share roads of the importance of pedestrian safety,” said Simpson.
Walk to School Day serves as a way for schools and communities to build enthusiasm for walking to school, introduce and promote the benefits of walking and bicycling and bring visibility to any possible safety concerns. Communities around the U.S. have been celebrating Walk to School Day since its inception in 1997.
A total of 73 Walk and Bike to School events are taking place in 62 New Jersey towns for this month.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School, which serves as the clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, coordinates online registration efforts and provides technical support and resources for Walk to School Day in the U.S.
Since 2006 NJDOT, through the SRTS program, has awarded more than $13.5 million in federal-aid grants for projects and programs in 84 towns and 192 schools statewide. Every county in the state is now home to at least one SRTS project.
Safe Routes to School activities range from building sidewalks, to getting drivers to slow down in school zones, to encouraging students to take active trips to school with school-wide competitions. The NJDOT Safe Routes to School program is part of a national program conducted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years, while the number of children walking and biking to school has declined. According to the 2001 National Household Travel Survey, less than 16 percent of students between the ages of 5 and 15 walked or biked to or from school, compared to 42 percent in 1969.