(Trenton) - In recognition of October as “Walk to School Month,” a proclamation signed by Governor Phil Murphy was presented to officials at the Lawrence Intermediate School in Lawrence Township for their efforts to educate students about safety, and encourage walking and biking to school.
The proclamation was delivered by New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti who participated with about 300 fourth graders in the school’s “Walk This Way” program, a national effort to raise awareness of the benefits of walking and biking, and the need for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs and projects.
In proclaiming October “Walk to School” month, the State recognizes that adding walking or biking to school as part of a daily routine increases physical activity, which in turn promotes healthy lifestyles and reduces the onset of health problems like obesity and diabetes, said Commissioner Scaccetti, a former student at Lawrence Intermediate School.
In addition, she said walking and biking to school can lessen the need for parents to drive their students to school and thereby reduce traffic congestion around schools.
“Safety in our transportation network is everyone’s responsibility. There is no substitution for awareness of your surroundings, whether in your car or bicycling or walking,” said Commissioner Scaccetti. “I want more school kids to feel comfortable and secure in walking or biking to their school. The NJDOT supports this through its Safe Routes to School program, which in turn supports programs like the one here at Lawrence Intermediate School. This is how school kids develop that situational awareness that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
The Lawrence Intermediate School “Walk This Way” program is sponsored by the St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center in Lawrenceville, and supported by partners including FedEx, The Trenton Thunder and the Lawrence Township Police Department.
“Walk This Way” and supporting other similar programs are goals of New Jersey’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program, which is a federal, state and local effort to encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk or bike to school and to improve areas where it is not safe to do so.
There have been six rounds of Safe Routes to Schools infrastructure grants awarded since 2012 in New Jersey, representing 170 projects worth $32.4 million. A seventh round of grant applications is currently being reviewed.
NJDOT funds a statewide education and awareness program at $1.5 million annually. There are local SRTS Coordinators at all eight Transportation Management Associations, who teach bike and pedestrian safety, coordinate Walk and Bike to School events, and help develop school travel plans. There are currently more than 300 active SRTS programs in schools across the state.
To view the official pres release, please click here.