Safe Routes to School is more than just a program. It is a comprehensive strategy to instill lifelong habits that support physical activity, health and safe behavior when walking and biking. A comprehensive and effective Safe Routes to School initiative can help create a healthier community for generations to come. Below are a few of the many benefits that Safe Routes to School offers.
Safe Routes to School programs help kids get more physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends that children get 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Biking or walking to and from school can help meet that goal.
Walking to school increases students’ overall physical activity, which has multiple health benefits including weight and blood pressure control, bone, muscle and joint health and maintenance, reduced risk of diabetes and improved psychological health.
Research shows that exercise helps kids arrive to school focused and ready to learn. This is because physical activity substantially benefits brain function, cognition and school performance in children. Walking and bicycling can help reduce behavior problems, help students settle in for learning during the school day and ultimately supports greater academic achievement.
Seniors, people with disabilities and others living or working near schools benefit from infrastructure improvements that slow traffic and make streets safer and more walkable. Seniors and other community members may also benefit by volunteering to support Safe Routes to School activities at school or in the community.
Safe Routes to School programs increase bicycling and walking for the whole family. Parents often walk with their kids or lead walking school buses and they may bring younger siblings, grandparents or others along. Safe Routes to School programs can lead to long-term cost savings for families too by reducing expenses for gas and other costs related to driving to and from school.
More kids and families walking and biking means more “eyes on the street,” which can improve the sense of safety and security for everyone. Also, as drivers get used to people walking or biking near schools, they may be more likely to stay alert, slow down and yield to pedestrians.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has helpful statistics sorted into five categories: Traffic Congestion, Safety, Health and Obesity, Environment and Bus Transportation Costs.
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