Thursday, September 6, 2012
It’s back to school time and the streets are filled with kids walking, biking and busing to Montclair’s 11 public schools. Sleepy-eyed kids loaded their back packs with supplies from mile-long lists and showed their brawn by hefting them on their shoulders on this exciting first day. Also exciting is that the town-wide Safe Routes to School Grant awarded to Montclair Township in 2009 has been authorized and is currently being implemented.
Since 1969, children who walk or bike to school has declined by 35% nationally while the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased by over 30%. The goal of Safe Routes to School in Montclair is to reverse that trend by getting more kids walking and biking to school where its safe – and where it’s not safe, the goal is to make it safe. Here’s how Montclair is turning that trend around.
The town-wide Safe Routes to School grant consisted of three elements: Engineering, Enforcement and Encouragement.
Engineering – According to the Township Engineer, Kimberli Craft, improvements like curb ramps and bold crosswalks in school zones are targeted to begin in spring 2013.
Enforcement – Sgt. Stephanie Egnezzo of the Montclair Police Department indicated that Montclair Police “posted individual officer assignments with our SRTS grant funds at each of the elementary and middle schools for Thursday and Friday this week both in the morning and the afternoon. The purpose of the officers assigned is to assist in making the first few days of school safer for the children/pedestrians as we all know how hectic it can be around the schools. “
Encouragement – Montclair Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Alexandra Kent is working with the Montclair Public Schools Health & Wellness Partnership, parent liaisons, PTA representatives, school representatives and The RBA Group to kick off the community workshops at each school. Workshops will provide school communities with tools to outline education and incentive programs to get more students to walk and bicycle to school safely. Workshops are intended to organically fit each school’s priorities through environmental, health, and safety actions. Contact Alex Kent (email@example.com) for more information about workshop schedule for your school
Montclair Public Schools have been dedicated to Safe Routes to School since 2006 when they participated for the first time in International Walk to School Day (iWalk) which is held the first Wednesday each October. This year, iWalk will be on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 where students across Montclair, the US and the world will choose to pedal or walk to school for many reasons including to promote physical activity, pedestrian and bicycle safety or concern for the environment. In Montclair, Bike&Walk Montclair and the Health & Wellness Partnership join together to promote Crossing Guard Appreciation Day on the same day. It’s another opportunity for you thank the Crossing Guards for keeping our kids safe on their way to school. Simple gestures like a card, cup of coffee, drawing or a hug will do!
School Health & Wellness Parent Liaisons should sign up now for International Walk to School Day on theiWalk website. Need assistance planning a Walk to School Day for your school? Contact your regional Safe Routes to School Coordinator at the New Jersey Safe Routes to School Resource Center by clicking on the Meadowlink tab.
For those who driving their kid to school is the only viable option, take Bike&Walk Montclair’s Courteous Driving Pledge!
“I pledge to drive within the posted speed limits; stop at all stop signs and red traffic lights; stop for pedestrians in crosswalks; be courteous to other road users; put down the phone; leave enough travel time so I don’t rush; choose to drive less; and to prominently display the Bike&Walk Montclair Courteous Driving magnet on my vehicle.”