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April 25, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Governor Perry proclaims Thursday, April 27, statewide bike and walk to school day.
Austin, TX — Students across Texas will join together to bike and walk to school on Thursday, April 27. This is the first time that Texas has had a statewide day dedicated to bicycling and walking to school. Children, their families, neighbors and school staff are encouraged to bike and walk for their health, for the health and safety of their communities and for the fun of it.
Texas Governor Rick Perry demonstrated his concern for children’s health and safety by signing a proclamation which decrees Thursday, April 27, 2006, to be Bike & Walk to School Day in Texas. In part, the Governor’s proclamation states: “As families increase their levels of activity, one option they may wish to pursue is to encourage their children to bike or walk to school. Ensuring that children can do so safely requires parental, neighborhood and community-wide support. To increase awareness of this fitness option, April has been dedicated for an educational campaign.”
Texas Bicycle Coalition is spearheading this inaugural Texas Bike & Walk to School Day by providing free materials to schools and parents through its website at www.BikeTexas.org. The event is an important component of the organization’s BikeTexas Safe Routes to School program, which unites communities toward the common goal of establishing and maintaining safe, active and healthy lifestyles for children and safer, healthier communities for everyone.
Robin Stallings, Texas Bicycle Coalition executive director, said, “As we complete our first year of the BikeTexas Safe Routes to School program, we really want families to improve their health and discover the treasures in their neighborhoods by walking and bicycling to school. Texas Bike & Walk to School Day is a great way to get started.”
In participating schools, local teams of parents and volunteers are designating staging areas where students who live far from school can gather and join neighborhood children to take “bike trains” and “walking school buses” to school. The event transforms the journey to school into a joyous occasion, reducing traffic and recapturing the days when children flooded the streets and sidewalks every morning.
There is a critical need to shift children from cars, back to bikes and feet. Children today have sedentary lifestyles. Statistics show an alarming increase in childhood obesity due to lack of exercise and poor diet, increasing children’s risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Texas’ Agriculture Commissioner notes 38 percent of Texas fourth graders are overweight compared to 11 percent nationally. In addition, traffic counts have determined that at least 21 percent of morning traffic is parents driving their children to school. Routine physical activity such as biking or walking to school combats child obesity and related health disorders.
In 2004, Texas Bicycle Coalition was awarded a three-year federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop the largest Safe Routes to School pilot program in the country. BikeTexas Safe Routes to School trains teachers across Texas in bicycle safety education and encourages children to bicycle and walk to school through local community involvement. To date, the Coalition has trained more than 2,800 teachers across Texas in the Texas SuperCyclist Curriculum, reaching approximately 500,000 Texas youth with the message of bicycle and pedestrian safety. The Safe Routes program identifies obstacles that prevent children from bicycling or walking to school, whether real or imagined, and helps schools and surrounding communities overcome those obstacles.
Texas Bicycle Coalition is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing bicycle access, safety and education in Texas. The Coalition was formed in 1991 to unify the voices of thousands of bicycle enthusiasts, the bicycle industry, Texas bicycle clubs and Texas-based bicycle rides and events. With the support of these members and community partners, the Coalition seeks to develop and steward the future of bicycling in Texas and encourage bicycle use as a healthy and mainstream lifestyle and transportation choice. As the only statewide organization focused on these issues, the Coalition has played a critical role educating children in the safe use of bicycles and safety equipment. For more information about Texas Bicycle Coalition, visit www.BikeTexas.org.
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MEDIA NOTE: A copy of the Governor’s proclamation and the complete Texas Bike & Walk to School Day resource guide including flyers, a poster, instructions, FAQs and resources for teachers are available at www.BikeTexas.org.