United Way of Central Alabama teamed up with Hoover City Schools for National Bike to School Day on May 10, with the goal of encouraging children to get active and bringing awareness to the need for local bike infrastructure.
Around 200 children in grades K-5 from Bluff Park Elementary gathered at the nearby Shades Crest Baptist Church at 7:00 a.m. with their bikes and pedaled their way to school. Parents and members of the Parent-Teacher-Organization were on hand to guide the children to their destination, along with members of the Hoover High School Mountain Biking Team and the Bike Link bike club. Members of the Hoover Police Department were there to block the appropriate intersections along the route.
United Way participates in National Bike to School Day as part of their Healthy Communities initiative, which promotes active modes of transportation like walking and biking through its Safe Routes program. Safe Routes works with schools to help educate and encourage students to make healthy lifestyle choices and partners with local communities to improve the physical environment to be more conducive and safe for walking and biking. Organizers hope to bring awareness to the need for bike infrastructures such as shared-lane markings, bike lanes and off-street paths as part of a larger network of bike routes.
“National Bike to School Day is about raising awareness that our communities are both walkable and bike-able,” said Rachael Leonard, Safe Routes Coordinator at United Way. “We promote that through both our Safe Routes program and Healthy Communities initiative with United Way, as well as ongoing events such as the walking school bus and different activities where we coordinate with schools to get kids healthy, active and moving.”
National Bike to School Day is a great way to teach kids to incorporate regular physical activity into their day and form healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Regular physical activity helps kids build strong bones, muscles and joints while decreasing the risk for adverse health conditions such as obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke.
United Way’s Healthy Communities initiative is funded by Birmingham REACH, a collaboration of agencies that work to improve Birmingham’s health by eliminating health disparities in chronic disease and Alabama Partners for Clean Air, an affiliation of public, private and nonprofit organizations that work to improve air quality in the Birmingham metro area.