Walk to School Day

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Walk It! Bike It! Lewisburg is working hard on preparations for the local observance of International Walk (and Bike) to School Day in early October.  This is the 21st year for the global effort, but just the third time it’s been pursued locally.  As with the last time in 2016, the local Walk to School Day will focus on the Linntown Elementary and DH Eichhorn Middle School campus and will take place on a Thursday, specifically, October 5.  Many students can and do walk no matter the weather, but in case of rain, the event will be held the following day, Friday, October 6.

The committee is working in collaboration with the Buffalo Valley Regional Police who will be providing road safety assemblies for all the students at both schools in advance of the event and helping to oversee traffic in the vicinity of the schools.

img_9656cropStudents who live within easy walking distance of the school can of course walk that day.  And, in addition, students who do not live close enough to walk are encouraged to participate either by arranging to walk with a friend who does live near the schools or by riding their assigned school bus and taking part in the remote drop off that morning at the Pawling Sports Complex.

 

Walk to School Day FAQ

What if my child doesn’t know how to walk safely?  Officer Miller from the Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department is scheduled to offer assemblies on road safety in advance of the event during the week of September 25 at both schools.   That said, these are lessons that take time, practice, and repetition to sink in.  So go over the basics with your child:  walk on the left (against traffic, unless you’re on the rail trail, where everyone stays right), stay alert (no headphones or cellphones), obey all traffic signals, and don’t assume that cars see you.  These are important life skills!  There’s no time like the present to start learning them.

What if my child rides the bus and we live too far away to walk?  We have arranged for a remote drop off that morning to incorporate a brief walk into all bus-riders’ day.  Students will ride their usual assigned busses and instead of pulling up directly outside the school that morning, the busses will pull in at the Pawling Sports Complex and the students will walk together along the path across school grounds to the schools.  Alternately, if your schedule allows, you can arrange to drop your child off with a friend who does live close enough and they could see what it’s like to walk from the neighborhood that day.  Depending on your regular bus pick up time and the location you choose to walk from, this may require getting up earlier that day.

What time do students have to arrive at the schools?  Eichhorn’s first bell is at 7:40 and the tardy bell is at 7:45.  Linntown’s first bell is at 8:35 and the tardy bell is at 8:45.

What if I’m not comfortable with my child walking on their own?  You can send them on the bus to participate in the remote drop off.  They will walk with the other students from the bus.  Or if you’re able, consider taking a little extra time that morning and accompanying them.  Middle School students will be at the school by 7:40 and Linntown students will be there by 8:35, so it may not take as much of your day as you think.  Another option is to practice with them in advance at a different time of day, perhaps on the weekend.  You can check your timing and go over the route together while taking a weekend stroll.  If you like the concept but you don’t have that much schedule flexibility, consider whether your child has any friends that live closer to the school that you would be comfortable having them walk with.

What if my child has to carry a musical instrument that day?  It is currently expected that day will be Cycle Day 1 in the district.  If your child will need to have their instrument at school that day and does not want to carry it, consider having them bring it the day before and leave it in the instrument storage room.  Or you could drop it off later in the morning.  Many students do walk regularly carrying their instruments.

martins-golden-sun-3-filterWhat should my child wear?  Reasonable shoes for school are probably also reasonable walking shoes.  They should be firmly attached and broken in.  Otherwise, the walk will not be strenuous, though it may be on the cool side.  An extra layer may be appropriate.

What if my child wants to bike to school?  Walk to School Day is also Bike to School Day.  If they are competent on a bike and you are comfortable with the idea, you may want to give this a try.  In that case, remember to wear helmets and make sure they know where the bike racks are and have a bike lock to attach their bike to the racks with.  If you have never ridden to school, making a practice ride ahead of time together on a weekend would be a great idea.  It is recommended that bikes approach the schools without entering the vehicular approach, i.e. by coming in either across the playing fields or the playground.  Riding a bike on a cool morning can be chilly if you’re not prepared, so put on a solid extra layer and even consider cotton gloves.  Parents should also check the bike in advance to confirm that the brakes are in working order, everything is secure, the tires are pumped up, and also have your child get on the bike with a full backpack to check to see whether there’s any interference between a low-hanging pack and the rear wheel.  Sometimes a rack mounted on the bike can run interference, even if the child continues to wear the pack.  Also check for any dangling straps from the backpack that could get tangled in the wheels.

Will anyone else be riding?  There are a number of children who ride regularly, so presumably yes.  If you would like to coordinate with others, get in touch with Walk It! Bike It! and we’ll try to get you connected with an experienced rider.  

What if my child attends the other schools in the district?  The National Safe Routes to School program does not extend to cover high schools.  And the Walk It! Bike It! Lewisburg is working with the physical education instructors to see whether some basic road safety instruction can be included in the curriculum later in the year, but it is not constrained by the Walk to School event date.  It’s also possible that in future years, if a remote drop off strategy were entertained by the district, that the Kelly buses could drop for the day at the new high school campus and the kids could take the trail connecting the schools that morning.

What route should we take?  There are a number of options and of course many possible starting points, but the general recommendation is that you select a route that follows roads that either have well-established sidewalks or are very low in traffic and that crossings of major roads should be accomplished in the presence of traffic signals.  Please do not attempt to cross Route 15 unless there is a pedestrian signal or a tunnel.  Here is a map of suggested collector routes, highlighting the fact that the pedestrian and bike access to the school campus is best kept separate from the car and bus access along Washington.  It is recommended that walkers and pedestrians approach along Adams or Jefferson and then come across the Linntown fields and playground to approach the school entrances.  For an extended discussion of the difference between a good bike route and a good car route, see this post from earlier this year.

 

What if my child wants to keep walking or riding to school?  For some that will be more feasible than for others.  These guidelines and suggestions hold in general.  You may also want to consult various online resources like this page for insight into being a bike commuting family.  And you may want to get involved with promoting biking and walking in Lewisburg by reaching out to Walk It! Bike It! Lewisburg.  Committee meetings are open to the public and take place on the first Friday morning of the month at 8am at the Lewisburg Borough Building at 55 S 5th St and the third Thursday evening at 7:30pm in the Cafe at the Giant grocery store in Penn House Commons.

If you have other questions, please feel free to submit them either in the comments or as an email to elmstreet@dejazzd.com, and we will expand this list.