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International Walk to School Day First Step in Creating Safe Routes to School Program

October 6, 2014 - Statewide Transportation Plan - Finding ways to make it easier for kids to walk to school throughout the year.

DENVER -- The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is welcoming schools to participate in Walk to School Day onWednesday, October 8, 2014, as part of Colorado Pedestrian Month.

Communities around the U.S. have been celebrating Walk to School Day since 1997. Around the globe, International Walk to School Month brings together more than 40 countries in recognition of the common interest in walking to school. Over time, this event has become part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration each October.

Participation in Walk to School events gives schools a chance to increase the number of children walking safely to school, thus promoting the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.  Participation in Walk to School Day 2013 reached a record high with nearly 4,500 events registered from all fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Many more communities held events but did not register. It looks like Colorado will surpass the 145 events that were held statewide last year.

Schools are encouraged to register their 2014 event at www.walkbiketoschool.org. This website may also be accessed to view and get information on the Walk to School events occurring across Colorado.

All Colorado schools that register their event on the website and then report their Walk to School Day participation numbers will be entered into a random drawing to win one of three $250 mini-grants to be used to continue Safe Routes to School encouragement and education. There will also be a social media photo contest with three $25 gift card winners, when Walk to School Day photos are posted on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #cowalk2school.

Walk to School events work to create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, reducing traffic congestion, and building connections between families, schools and the broader community. By participating, schools teach students how to walk and bicycle safely and inform parents and other drivers how to drive more safely around pedestrians and bicyclists.

"Walking and bicycling to school enhances the health of kids, improves air quality and helps the environment," says CDOT Safe Routes to School Program Manager Leslie Feuerborn. "Walk to School events are aimed at bringing forth permanent change to encourage a more pedestrian-friendly Colorado, one community at a time.”

CDOT is now accepting funding requests for the 2015 SRTS program. For this cycle of grants SRTS will offer funding of education and encouragement projects to get more children safely walking or biking to school. Successful programs involve the whole community and encompass evaluation, encouragement, education, enforcement, and engineering.

To date, nearly $17.5 million has been distributed to Colorado communities to help more children bike and walk to school through the SRTS program. The program is 100 percent funded and managed by CDOT.

For additional information, please contact Leslie Feuerborn at (303) 757-9088 or e-mail at [email protected].  The grant application and instructions can be found at www.coloradodot.info/programs/bikeped.

You can also visit these Web sites:

CDOT Safe Routes to School Program:     www.coloradodot.info/programs/bikeped

International Walk to School in the USA:     www.walkbiketoschool.org

National Center for Safe Routes to School: www.saferoutesinfo.org

Colorado: The Official State Web Portal