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Why Johnny Can’t Ride to School: Safe Routes on the National Stage

When you see David Darlington’s byline, you know it’s going to be good.

A longtime contributor to Bicycling magazine, his heart-wrenching feature on cyclist fatalities earned a prestigious National Magazine Award in 2009. Now, in the June issue, Darlington digs into another important issue: Safe Routes to School.

Photo by Nathaniel Welch (Bicycling magazine)

In his in-depth investigation ‚ÄĒ Why Johnny Can’t Ride ‚ÄĒ Darlington introduces readers to a family in Saratoga Springs who defied an administrative ban on biking to the local middle school. He examines the many factors that have caused the number of kids who walk or bike to school to fall from nearly 50 percent in 1969 to just 13 percent in 2009. And, interviewing advocates like League president Andy Clarke, he makes the case for improved infrastructure, supportive local policies and continued federal funding for Safe Routes to School.

In fact, the piece was so thought-provoking that Darlington appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday. Click here to listen.

Robert Ping

It’s a great segment and, as Robert Ping from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership points out, “With May being National Bike Month, it’s the perfect time to be talking about riding and walking to school.” With Safe Routes in the national headlines, Ping provides some additional resources for both longtime advocates and those new to the movement in his his follow-up blog post, including:

  • Safe Routes to School programs can increase walking and bicycling¬†by as much as 200 percent and improve safety by 49 percent,¬†and¬†increased physical activity rates in children¬†results in better cardiovascular fitness, including¬†for those who actively commute to school. Find more facts about Safe Routes to School here.
  • The Safe Routes to School National Partnership doesn’t grant any federal dollars,¬†but as a nonprofit we do¬†lead the movement in advocating for a federal Safe Routes to School program and win the transportation dollars needed to build sidewalks, crosswalks and bicycle paths, so¬†that families can walk and ride safely to school. Join the cause and speak up for Safe Routes to School today.

And get involved in your community, too. This year marks the first-ever National Bike to School Day on May 9th. Find more information and resources on the new website from the National Center for Safe Routes to School.


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