Above / Illinois will celebrate Walk to School Day with new biking and walking education requirement for public schools… New law requires K-8 public schools to provide instruction on biking and walking safety. (PN File Photo)

The 22nd Annual National Walk to School Day is Wed., Oct. 10, 2018. In Illinois, 208 schools have registered to participate. Seven elementary schools are from Naperville, representing School District 203 and School District 204. Whether or not schools register, many youngsters will walk and bike to school. Thanks to all crossing guards who help keep the students safe when they cross at intersections.

Safer driving habits for motorists also will make it safer for biking and walking to and from school.

Chicago, Ill: October 9, 2018 —School districts across Illinois are working to meet a new requirement to teach biking and walking safety while celebrating national Walk to School Day on Wed., Oct. 10.

Illinois crash data shows nearly five children are hit by people driving every day in Illinois while walking or biking within one block of a school.

In August, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Bike Walk Education in Schools Act (HB4799) into law. The legislation amends the school code so that every K-8 public school in Illinois is required to provide instruction, study and discussion of effective methods for the prevention and avoidance of traffic injuries related to walking and bicycling.

Walk and bike with knowledge to save lives

Safe Routes to School is a program that aims to make biking and walking to school a safer and popular choice.

Teaching walking and biking safely saves lives while helping kids get more physical activity, reducing the risk of obesity and promoting good overall health.

The Active Transportation Alliance – Chicagoland’s voice for better biking, walking and public transit – worked with legislators to draft and pass the Bike Walk Education in Schools Act this year.

“We must do more to ensure the safety of Illinois kids while they are biking and walking,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “Walk School Day provides a great opportunity for school districts across the state to get to work meeting the requirements of the new law.”

There are many free resources available to help districts meet this new requirement. Active Trans worked with the Illinois Association of School Boards to compile a resource list and share it directly with school districts. Options range from online quizzes and videos to guide books with a checklist of teaching points and lesson plans. More ambitious programs include on-bike education at schools.

Advocates encouraged to work with local school districts

Get to know the rules of the road. In Naperville, the speed limit is 25 mph unless otherwise posted.

Active Trans is working with advocates across the region to share these resources with their local school board and encourage them to get to work on meeting the new requirement. Advocates and districts who are interested in learning more can contact education@activetrans.org.

While Active Trans sees this new law as an important step forward in making Illinois a safer place for kids to bike and walk, this is just one of several changes needed to improve biking and walking safety. We also need safer driving habits for motorists and streets that are designed for safer biking and walking.

Active Transportation Alliance

The Active Transportation Alliance is a nonprofit, member-based advocacy organization that advocates for walking, bicycling, and public transit to create healthy, sustainable and equitable communities. The organization works to build a movement around active transportation, encourage physical activity, increase safety and build a world-class transportation network. The Active Transportation Alliance has more than 20,000 members and supporters in the Chicago region.

For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org.

Report submitted by Ted Villaire, Communications Director, Active Transportation Alliance.