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NC Department of Health and Human Services

International Walk to School Day

Release Date: October 3, 2008
Contact: Carol Schriber, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH – Increasing gas prices have many people thinking about how they choose to get around town. More and more people are leaving their keys on the counter and pulling out their sneakers and bikes instead. Choosing to use two legs instead of four wheels saves money, and is better for the environment and for health. Biking and walking are great alternatives for shorter trips, like traveling to and from school. 

International Walk to School Day is Wednesday, Oct. 8. Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section in the N.C. Division of Public Health, said, “Walk to School Day is a fun opportunity for children and their families to get some physical activity and provides a great way to learn and practice safe walking skills. We want children and their families to incorporate walking into their everyday lives.”

Not all trips to school are short and not all routes are safe. The event also brings attention to the need for communities to ensure safer routes for walking and bicycling.

There are many benefits to walking and biking more. Children who are more physically active benefit from increased alertness, which can help them do better in school. Establishing a physically active lifestyle increases the likelihood that children will grow into adults who lead more active lifestyles, improving their chances for better health and preventing chronic diseases. 

To learn how you can participate in Walk to School Day, visit the Safe Routes to School Web site at, where you can sign up your school. This site also has suggestions for how your school can celebrate if there are no safe routes or if it is too far for children to walk. You can also check out the North Carolina Walks to School toolkit, created by the N.C. Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch to help communities plan and implement Walk to School events.  The tool kit is available online at For more information about the toolkit, call the Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch at 919-707-5215. 

Walking and biking to school provide many benefits. However, it is important to remember safety. The following safety tips, from the N.C. Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, highlight ways to make walking and bike to school safe events for everyone.  

Walking Safety: Practice and remind children to:

  • Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk and you have to walk in the road, face the traffic so that you can see cars coming and keep as far from the roadway (as far away from the traffic) as possible.
  • Cross only at corners or marked crosswalks. If there is a crosswalk button, press the button and wait for the walk sign to indicate that it is safe to cross.
  • Stop at the curb or edge of the road, look left, then right, and then left again (left right-left) before you step into the street.
    If a car is parked where you are crossing, make sure there is no driver in the car then go to the edge of the car and look left right-left until no cars are coming. Keep looking for cars while you are crossing.
  • Walk, don’t run. This gives time for drivers to see you before you enter the roadway.

Bicycling Safety: Practice and remind children to:

  • Always wear a helmet that is properly fitted and complies with Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Standards.
  • Ride on the right side of the road or trail in a single file (one bicycle behind another) in the same direction as other vehicles, and come to a complete stop before crossing streets.
  • Always use proper hand signals when turning and stopping.
  • Use a bicycle bell to alert pedestrians that you are passing (this helps prevent crashes).

For more safety and injury prevention information, contact Injury and Violence Prevention Branch at 919-707-5425. 

Walking and biking are great alternatives to driving for short trips.  Safety is a top priorty.  Be safe, have fun, walk to school. 

For additional information, visit these Web sites:






Updated: October 14, 2008