Press release from Shrewsbury Safe Routes to School
The greater Shrewsbury community will celebrate “Walk to School Day” on Wednesday, October 16, by encouraging children who attend the Shrewsbury Borough School and their families to walk or bicycle to school.
The first annual Walk to School Day event is being organized by Shrewsbury’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) team, in partnership with the Shrewsbury Borough School, the Shrewsbury Borough Police Department and the Shrewsbury Borough Environmental Commission’s Green Team. SRTS is a national initiative designed to assist states and communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school.
“As the parent of a kindergartener, I am excited about the potential this program has to enhance safety for our children,” SRTS Team leader Walt Huresky explains. “Walking and bicycling to school helps children develop a sense of independence and build confidence in their abilities. Walking promotes health, fitness, and cleaner air. It also helps make communities safer for pedestrians. When routes to school are appropriate and safe, we all benefit.”
The National Center for Safe Routes to School reports that fewer children walk or bicycle to school than did so a generation ago. In 1969, 48 percent of students between the ages of 5 and 14 walked or bicycled to or from school. In 2009, that number dropped to 13 percent. The center cites increased traffic congestion and safety concerns among parents as the primary reason for the decline.
In anticipation of Walk to School day, the SRTS team released a survey to all Shrewsbury Borough School parents to identify issues of concern and possible areas for future improvement, including community education, police enforcement and physical route improvements, such as making cross walks more visible and repairing sidewalks for safe passage. The team is also distributing a “Walk To School” packet to each student to include suggested walking routes, pedestrian safety tips, a “Be Cool, Walk to School” bracelet and a voucher for a prize raffle. Walkers, bicyclists and their families are advised to arrive earlier to school that day to allow time for the raffle drawing. Only those students who walk or bike to school will be entered into the raffle.
Walk to School Day grew out of an ongoing effort to by the Green Team to gain recertification for Shrewsbury as a Sustainable New Jersey town. The team helped to identify and implement a number of recent environmental initiatives, including the creation of no-idling zones, a ban on disposable plastic bottles, and the installation of a school rain garden, in order to gain Bronze certification in 2012.
Nearly two dozen local merchants have contributed goods and services in support of Walk to School Day, including AC Moore Home, Acme Markets, Panera Bread, Dean’s Natural Food Market, Staples, Trader Joe’s, Shrewsbury Bicycles, The Running Store, Road Runner’s Sports, Bagel Masters, Strokers Deli and Subs, Frederico’s, Harmon Discount, Kidegories, The Sport Spot, The Red Bicycle Studio, Marshall’s, Dancing Foot Yoga and Athlete’s Alley.