La Crosse’s Safe Routes to School plan finalized

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- Over the last 60 years, walking and biking to school has declined from 50% to only 17% nationally.

The city and school district of La Crosse are hoping to reverse this by starting a “Safe Routes to School” program which they just finalized.

The initiative encourages students to start and end their days with physical activity while also looking at infrastructure and what can be done to slow traffic around schools and neighborhoods.

The district is implementing the program by using a set of strategies: Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Engineering, Evaluation and Equity.

Each schools’ safe routes are based on neighborhoods students live in, in addition to recommendations from parents, teachers and other community stakeholders.

A lot of consideration is being put into lower-income neighborhoods where studies show that although students in these areas are more likely to walk or bike to school, they also face more traffic safety issues.

Program coordinators say walking and biking to school has a number of benefits for students.

“It’s a time for kids to burn off a little steam before they get into the classroom and a way for some of these kids to gain a little bit of independence, which is good, it helps them grow up,” said Safe Routes to School Committee Chairperson Linda Lee.

Studies also show students who get physical activity before school tend to be more alert and ready to learn.

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