Safe Routes Scoop
Clean Green Schools, Healthy Happy Kids

Chauffeuring children to school often results in two vehicle trips, one to the school and one returning home, or four additional trips per day.

 

The financial savings of having kids walk to school can be significant, as walking is always cheaper than increasing parking capacity, dealing with local traffic congestion and providing school busing services. Busing is expensive, and with fuel costs rocketing, the price keeps rising. Students, staff and parents, particularly those with lower incomes, often value having improved transportation choices.

 

Encouraging Life Skills

Programs that increase walking and cycling help children become more physically active and make exercise a regular habit, which provides significant health and environmental benefits far into the future. (see Safe and Healthy Routes to School article in this issue.) Walking and bicycling to school are also opportunities for children to explore their community, develop social skills, and experience increasing independence and responsibility as they become older (Hillman, 1993; Adams and Hillman, 1995; EC, 2002.) According to a survey of 6,369 elementary school children in Ontario, Canada, 72.2 percent preferred to travel to school by walking and cycling (O’Brian, 2001.)

Taking Hold in NJ

In New Jersey, a group called the Sustainable Schools Network (www.globallearningnj.org) is helping schools throughout the state become more sustainable. The network is a partnership of schools, professional associations, higher education groups, state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporations whose goal is to promote education for a sustainable future for New Jersey and the world by working with schools all over the state. SSN also maintains a useful database of Programs & Resources for Sustainable Schools (www.globallearningnj.org/

SSNprograms.htm).

 

Idle-Free New Jersey

Vehicle exhaust is the leading source of hazardous air pollution in New Jersey (Source: NJ Department of Environmental Protection.) Air pollution from car and diesel exhaust puts people, especially children, at risk for asthma and other respiratory ailments, allergies, and possible long term problems. In addition, vehicles release potent greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. New Jersey law requires that all motor vehicles (both diesel and gasoline fueled) cannot idle at a stop for more than three consecutive minutes.

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