This morning hundreds of kids across the Kansas City metro area walked to school as part of International Walk to School Day. Why is this such a big deal? The percentage of kids who live within one mile of their school and walk or bike to school has plummeted from 89% in 1969 to 35% in 2009.
The two biggest reasons parents are concerned about letting their kids walk and bike to school are distance to school and traffic-related dangers. And for good reason. The leading cause of unintentional, injury-related deaths among kids in 2015 was motor vehicle traffic.
But there are a lot of benefits to walking and biking to school. Kids get to be physically active, create healthy habits, foster a sense of responsibility and community as well as reduce air pollution from cars. Programs like Safe Routes to School encourage kids to walk and bike to school and try to make it safer where it’s unsafe.
Complete Streets is one way to make streets safer. Complete Streets policies set standards so streets are designed to be safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities. This includes pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and people with disabilities, not just cars. Depending on the area, a complete street might have sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian signals, bike lanes, medians, curb extensions or speed humps.
KC Healthy Kids has partnered with the American Heart Association and BikeWalkKC to make sure every street in Kansas City, Missouri is a safe route for our kids by advocating for a Complete Streets policy. Let your elected officials know you support Complete Streets.
Whether you are walking kids to the bus stop, biking around the neighborhood or pushing a stroller to the park, Complete Streets are designed to keep you safe and comfortable along the way. Speak out for Complete Streets today!
Images: Google Maps