Wednesday, Oct. 3 is International Walk to School Day. The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, with support from the Heights Bicycle Coaltion, is celebrating by encouraging students to skip the car ride and walk or bike to school.
Schools participating in the third annual Walk or Bike to School Day include Boulevard, Canterbury, Gearity, Noble and Roxboro elementary schools and Roxboro Middle School, said Mary Dunbar, president of the Heights Bicycle Coalition and Cleveland Heights City Council member.
"It’s an important piece of creating a supportive school environment for healthy lifestyles. Kids need an hour of physical activity a day, but the demands of the academic curriculum mean schools can rarely provide so much time for physical education," Dunbar said. "Research shows that children who use active modes of transportation to get to school arrive more ready to settle down and learn."
Some schools will include banners, safe walking and bicycling tips, reflective stickers and CLIF bars as treats, she said.
The district and the coalition have planned other events throughout the year that also encourage biking, such as the bike rodeos in the spring. Another rodeo is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 3 at Canterbury. The Cleveland Heights Police Department and the school's PTA helped plan the event.
"Cleveland Heights and University Heights are perfect places for kids to navigate, with quiet side streets, sidewalks, crossing guards, and low automobile speed limits. Despite this, many parents drive their kids to school, even if the kids live nearby," Dunbar said. "The school district provides a bus ride for elementary students who live more than a mile from the school they attend, or more than two miles away for middle school students. The cars and buses can create traffic congestion — and some pollution — around schools at the start and end of the school day. Reducing that congestion — and maybe even district transportation costs — are goals of the program."