Health and Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to School programs get kids physically active and take cars off the road. In the same time frame we have seen walking and bicycling to school decline from almost 50 percent to 13 percent, childhood obesity has tripled for children and adolescents. We need physical activity in the adult population as well as one-third of adults are obese. It has been shown that physically active adults are less likely to be diagnosed with chronic diseases.

If you need a few extra reasons to  start a Safe Routes to School program or host a Walk and Bike to School Day event, check out these statistics:

  • Walking one mile to and from school each day is two-thirds of the recommended sixty minutes of physical activity a day. Children who walk to school have higher levels of physical activity throughout the day.
  • Studies show that children who walk and bicycle to school are more physically active,  have lower body mass index scores,  and lower obesity levels   than students who are driven or bused to school.
  • A safety analysis by the California Department of Transportation estimated that the safety benefit of Safe Routes to School was up to a 49 percent decrease in the childhood bicycle and pedestrian collision rates.  From 2000-2006, 30% of traffic deaths for children ages 5-15 occurred while walking or bicycling.
  • Pedestrians are more than twice as likely to be struck by a vehicle in locations without sidewalks.  Sidewalks are often built with Safe Routes to School dollars.
  • Children exposed to traffic pollution are more likely to have asthma, permanent lung deficits, and a higher risk of heart and lung problems as adults.
  • Over the last 25 years, among children ages 5 to 14, there has been a 74 percent increase in asthma cases.   In addition, 14 million days of school are missed every year due to asthma. Schools that are designed so children can walk and bicycle have measurably better air quality.

More information and the sources for the above statistics are in our Safe Routes to School and Health handout. To register your school for Walk and Bike to School Day on October 3, 2012, visit the registration website.

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