Safety First!

Christy SmithInternational Walk to School Day is Wednesday, October 3, 2012. So far more than 3,000 schools nationwide and more than 180 (and counting-that’s more than twice as many as in 2011!) across the state of Tennessee are participating. If you’ve ever walked to school, or anywhere for that matter with a child you know safety is a top priority. Taking a walk around your neighborhood weather it’s on walk to school day or not can help determine the ‘walkability’ of your community.

The International Walk to School Day website has tons of great tips for walking and bicycling to school at: Here are some of the things to consider when planning on walking to school:

Are there sidewalks or paths to keep you from walking on the street? Remember, if there are no sidewalks or paths, walk as far from motor vehicles as possible, on the side of the street facing traffic. Where is the safest place to cross street? Can you avoid high speed and multiple lane traffic? Is there a crossing guard near your school? Are drivers paying attention? Do they yield to pedestrians and cyclists and are they respecting speed limits? Do you feel comfortable on the route? Are there any loose dogs? Is the route on well-lit streets? Is there vegetation blocking the path or obscuring your view?

If you are planning to walk with a group make sure you find a route that is the most accessible to the most people. However, if your school is in a remote location there are other ways you can hold a walk to school day event.

Have students meet as a group and walk together from a nearby location. This is a good option if you need to have more control of the walking conditions.

Hold a walk AT school day.  Walk during the day on your schools field, playground or even gymnasium. The students can walk a predetermined distance in honor of International Walk to School Day.

It’s always a good idea to educate the students, teachers and parents at your school about the basics of traffic safety. Local law enforcement may be interested in helping teach or even participate in walk to school day. Don’t forget to educate the community too: send fliers in the mail or home with students. Ask radio stations to announce your event or use social media to talk about the benefits of walking to school.

Successful walk to school day events lead to healthier students, policy change and even spark interest in your community to apply for a Safe Routes to School grant. If you need more information about starting a Safe Routes to School program or if you want to tell me about your walk to school day event contact me at