International Walk to School Month–OCTOBER
October is International Walk to School Month with the emphasis on October 6 as Chapel Hill celebrates International Walk to School Day. The Go Chapel Hill program coordinates the Walk to School Day as part of the Town of Chapel Hill’s efforts to reduce traffic congestion, keep the air clean and encourage active healthy lifestyle. The Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools annually have 5 – 8 schools that participate in the International Walk to School Day, reducing morning peak hour traffic by approximately 850 – 1000 cars. Through the Safe Routes to School program, students and families are encouraged to walk, bicycle, scooter or use other healthy means to get to and from school. Some families coordinate and gather annually at certain meeting spots to enjoy the social aspects of walking to school together— teachers will also walk as an encouragement in the efforts . Parents and teachers comment that the program promotes healthier lifestyle, offers parent/child time together, gives students an energy boost for a clear and ready minds for learning, and offers opportunity for healthy emotional growth through the social aspects of students walking together. Each school determines the level of participation in the Walk to School Day according to location, student population and other events scheduled for that week.
Active Wednesdays— Throughout the year, students are encouraged to continue using alternative transportation to get to and from school, especially on Wednesdays! Alternative transportation includes school buses, Chapel Hill Transit, carpools, walking, cycling, scooters and other means of healthy transportation. And as always safety comes first for whichever style of transportation is used to get to and from school!
More information can be found on the websites at International Walk to School Day: www.walkbiketoschool.org or the Safe Routes to School program at www.saferoutesinfo.org . For more information regarding the local Walk to School efforts contact Len Cone at the Town of Chapel Hill 968 – 2728. Information regarding alternative transportation in Chapel Hill can also be found at www.gochapelhill.org .
Mayor Kleinschmidt Proclaims Walk to School Day
Go! Chapel Hill is committed to making routes to school safer in our community. Making it easier for children to walk or bike to school will have a positive impact on the environment and the physical health of our children. Additionally, an increase in the number of children walking or biking to school may reduce traffic congestion in Chapel Hill as less parents will be driving their children to school. According to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, a combination of education, encouragement, enforcement and engineering are necessary elements in any program to make walking and biking to school a more feasible and popular choice among children.
Active Routes to School Program
There are six Active Schools in the Go! Chapel Hill program including Estes Hills Elementary, Rashkis Elementary, Ephesus Road Elementary, Mary Scroggs Elementary, Phillips Middle and Culbreth Middle. The first school participating in the Go! Chapel Hill Active Living by Design efforts was Ephesus Road Elementary School. The Partnership Advisory Committee worked with parents, school staff, and other volunteers at Ephesus Road to encourage walking and biking to school, and to promote other types of physical activity for students who live farther from the school. As part of this work, the committee worked with parent representatives from Ephesus Elementary to conduct student travel surveys, which will help evaluate student physical activity levels. Improvements to the walking and biking environment surrounding the school were initiated in 2004. Among the improvements implemented at Ephesus Road were new sidewalks, crosswalks, and stop signs.
Solar Powered Flashing School Zone Lights
The Town of Chapel Hill has installed flashing school zone lights at Ephesus Elementary, Estes Hills Elementary and Phillips Middle Schools to improve pedestrian safety. Solar-powered lights were selected by the Town as part of its commitment to energy conservation and the use of renewable energy.