'Safe Routes to School' programs are spreading across the nation as a means of reducing traffic congestion, increasing physical activity and encouraging community involvement in achieving safer walking/biking routes to schools. With encouragement by the Missoula Bicycle/Pedestrian Office and the Safe Routes Steering Committee, Missoula elementary schools have gotten involved. The principle goal of the program is to get more children walking and biking to school safely. The program includes education, incentives, engineering and partnerships with parents, city government, schools and law enforcement. A key component of the program involves classroom education that teaches children traffic safety skills. Contests and events, organized by participating schools' Safe Routes groups, encourage students and their parents to shift their travel behavior through fun community activities.
Here are some of the ways walking to school benefits you and your child:
· Optimizes your child’s mental aptitudes
· Help give children the exercise they need daily
· Reduce congestion, pollution, and speed near schools
· Raise awareness of “walkability” and where improvements can be made
· Create and deepen relationships
· Save you money – If it costs 44 cents a mile to drive a car and you drive 190 round-trips to your school at 3 miles per trip. That equals $250 per year!
· Reduce fuel consumption for our environment
· Slow life down and gives us time to relax
· Create memories
· It's a great way to exercise pets