It used to be that over half of all kids rode their bikes or walked to school. Today, that number is down to 13 percent.
Amidst rising concerns about childhood obesity and kids' growing lack of physical activity, many are wondering if perhaps the commute to school can also serve as a great time for a little exercise.
Peter Flax, editor in chief of Bicycling Magazine, says that a growing campaign urging kids to bike to school can make a difference.
“We understand that it’s not like every kid in every school is just going to start biking and walking to school, but in most communities a real impact can be made,” Flax said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2008, 52,000 people were injured and 716 died while riding a bike, and 15% of the fatalities were children between 5 and 15 years-old. But Flax says communities can work together to make the ride to school a safe one.
“In a lot of communities they’ve found that if they just invest a little bit of energy and a little bit of money to create bike lanes, put up signage, and have curbs on sidewalks where kids can roll through an intersection and roll right up, that it has a pretty significant impact on the safety in that community," Flax said.
Minimizing the risk of biking to school is easy, Flax says. A properly fitting helmet and a bike outfitted with reflectors and lights are musts, according to Flax. Parents could also improve the commute's safety by arranging ride pools, like car pools, and making a route map with their kids.
Flax and BICYCLING Magazine are encouraging parents to teach their kids to ride to school.
“Parents need to take just a little bit of responsibility just to teach the kids the basics," Flax said. "Show them how to look for cars and how to make turn signals."
This program aired on August 31, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.