"The Safe Routes to School program helps ensure that children have a safe way to walk or bike to school," LaHood said in a statement. "It's important that we provide students with options on how to get to school, while promoting exercise and healthy lifestyles."
As the childhood obesity rate in the U.S. increases, more emphasis has been placed on encouraging kids to exercise. One approach entails having them walk to school rather than be driven by their parents. The 2009 National Household Travel Survey found 13% of children ages 5 to 14 usually walked or biked to school compared with 48% of students in 1969.
"We know this program has been enormously effective because the steady decline, since 1969, in the number of kids walking or biking to school has been stabilized," LaHood wrote on his blog. "And as we made our way down the street this morning, I was reminded yet again of this program's extraordinary work."
More than 3,100 schools in states across the country participated in International Walk to School Day this year. Events held in other states include:
More information is available at www.walktoschool.org.