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Below parents can find resources providing information on the following topics:
  • Reasons to encourage your child to walk or ride their bicycle to school.
  • Information on the Walking School Bus.
  • Adult School Crossing Guard Guidelines.
  • Requirements for maintenance of your sidewalks for safe student travel to and from school.
  • Security issues for your child's bike, including:
    • How to register your bike with the local police and how to report a stolen bike.
    • How to choose the best bike lock and the best method for locking your child's bike.
  • Routine bike maintenance procedures to help ensure that your child's ride is safe.
Reasons to encourage your child to walk or ride to school:
The leading reason why your child should walk or ride to school is to increase the amount of exercise they receive daily.  Lack of exercise is one of several factors causing increased childhood obesity nationwide. 
The Center for Disease Control's (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that from 2003-2006 the increase of childhood obesity had nearly tripled from the period of 1976-1980. 
Contributing factors to this increase in childhood obesity include genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.  Parents, however, can help encourage healthy behavior in their children.  Below are descriptions of the three types of factors leading to childhood obesity:
  • Genetic factors are contributors that are handed down from parent to child; however it is not believed that this factor alone contributes to obesity.  Rather it is genetic factors combined with environmental and behavioral factors.  Genetic characteristics have not changed over the past 30 years, however obesity statistics have.
  • Behavioral factors include a child's diet, portion sizes, frequent snacking, sugar-added food or drink, and the frequency of physical activity.  Unhealthy behavior can lead not only to obesity, but to high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and weak bone strength.  Moreover, children who develop healthy and active lifestyles tend to continue this trend during their lives.
  • Environmental factors at home (parents are role models for healthy behavior), at child care (especially for children of working mothers), schools (health education), and within the community (bike paths, sidewalks, parks, etc.) all greatly contribute to a healthy lifestyle that will help avoid instances of childhood obesity.
In Wisconsin, 14% of all youth between 9th and 12th grades were overweight in 1999, and another 11% were obese.  This number nearly tripled for adolescents from the two previous years.  Of adults, 61% were overweight or obese in 1999.  There are an estimated 300,000 deaths a year in Wisconsin that are associated with obesity.  For more details, see the Wisconsin Department of Health's report on Obesity, Nutrition, and Physical Activity in Wisconsin.
The Walking School Bus:
A Walking School Bus program is of enormous benefit to both parents and students.  Not only does it provide the exercise that students need, it teaches them the safety skills that they will need for when they are old enough to walk to school on their own! 
Parents benefit too!  Two or more parents can take turns walking groups of their children to school.  Alternating turns allows the parents time with their children in the morning but also allows for flexibility of schedule and time off when other parents are leading the walk. 
For details on how to get a Walking School Bus program started, recommended procedures to follow, how to choose a safe route, and how you can measure the impact of your Walking School Bus program, check out the program's website here!
School Crossing Guard Guidelines:
Busy intersections pose the biggest threat to students walking to school.  To combat this danger, schools, law enforcement officials, parents, and community members should develop a school crossing guard program.  There are several factors that need to be considered when implementing this program, such as critical locations for guards, the role the guards should play, funding for guards, and training among others.
For a comprehensive review of what is required for an effective School Crossing Guard program, review the National Safe Routes to School's Adult School Crossing Guard Guidelines.
Sidewalk-related laws & policies:
  • City policy for sidewalks in existing subdivisions:  The City will cover the expenses of sidewalk installations along any road improvement projects.*
  • Property owners are responsible for removing any snow or ice on their sidewalks within 36 hours of accumulation.  (4.09(a))
  • The city is responsible for costs of maintaining, repairing, or replacing damaged sidewalks (unless they are damaged by the property owner).  (4.13(c))
*Above, sidewalk installation is defined by city policy (not City ordinance).  Existing ordinances (City Code Chapters 4 and 21) relating to sidewalks are, in parts, conflicting or can be confusing.  These ordinances will be reviewed as part of our Safe Routes program.
Security issues for your child's bike:
Most communities offer bike registration, if not require it.  To register your bike, or should it be stolen, contact your local police department.
Bikes should be locked up when parked in public places such as schools or libraries.  There are several types of bike locks on the market for you to choose from.  The three basic types are D or U Locks, Chain or cable locks, and Wheel Locks.  For a complete review of bike locks, visit the Cool Biking Zone website.
The most effective method of locking a bike is to make sure that the lock passes through the bike frame as well as the front tire and then through the bike rack where the bike will be parked.  This will ensure that the bike remains secure and that tires won't be removed from the bike.
Routine bike maintenance procedures:
Frequent and basic bike maintenance plays a very important role in how safe a bike ride is.  If the gears are not properly oiled or the breaks are not frequently checked, a rider could be prevented from stopping when they need to.  Basic bike maintenance starts with the ABCs of biking: 
  • Air pressure - Tires should be inflated to the recommended pressure as provided by the tire manufacturer.  If a tire is too inflated or too flat, it could lead to a puncture or to lack of traction while riding. 
  • Brakes - Ensure that the bike's brakes work properly when applied and that they do not rub against the tires when they are not applied.   
  • Cranks & chains - These need to be properly tightened (cranks) and oiled (chains) to avoid having them freeze up on you during your ride or becoming too loose, not allowing for proper acceleration.
For an excellent tutorial and video on proper frequent bike maintenance techniques for your child's bike, check out this link from the Cool Biking Zone!
Proper cleaning also keeps your child's bike operating safely by allowing the reflectors to remain visible and by keeping the gears and chains clear of debris.  For instructions on proper cleaning and a tutorial video, visit the Cool Biking Zone.