Statewide event next week aims to get kids walking, biking to school

DES MOINES — National Walk, Bike, and Roll to School Day is one week from today on May 8th and organizers in Iowa say this year’s event promises to be the biggest yet.

The Iowa Safe Routes to School manager for the Iowa Bicycle Coalition Matt Burkey says they’re working to get more schools registered statewide to take part. “Even though it’s just a week away, there’s still time to get your school signed up,” Burkey says. “All you have to do is not drive to school that day, have you and your students walk, bike, roll any way you want to get the school that gets you outside gets you moving.”

This is the 13th year Iowa will be taking part in the effort and Burkey says more than 40 schools will be joining in. Burkey says the annual event is dedicated to promoting healthier, more sustainable communities. “A 30-minute walk is about all the exercise you need in a day, and so you and your student walking to and from school together gets you the daily amount of exercise you need, gets you outside in the sunshine — or the rain,” Burkey says. “We’ve seen other schools have such good turnout that they do it every Wednesday in May. I’ve met students that say, ‘This was so much fun, can I do it again tomorrow?'”

Schools and districts across Iowa are taking part in the event on a variety of levels.  “I understand, especially in rural Iowa, not everyone lives within an easy walking or biking distance to their school,” Burkey says, “and rural Iowa school districts are participating by walking or biking part of the way and that’s still fine.”

He says the benefits of walking, biking, and rolling to school include reduced traffic congestion and pollution, enhanced community connections, and improved health and well-being for students and families.