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Perspective | Students deserve active, safe journeys to school

As my son Miles and his peers are continuously being welcomed to in-person learning at Green Elementary in Raleigh, we are all still adjusting to changes that the global pandemic has presented.

There are so many things that take place even before a child arrives at school. Safe transportation between home and school is a critical part of a child’s day. Arriving safely, on-time, and ready to learn is important to all children’s success. Earlier this month, we participated in the National Walk/Bike to School Day.

While the day is about getting up and moving, we also wanted to make sure that all students were walking and biking to school safely. Our PTA at Green Elementary worked together to plan the day. We organized a group, purchased orange flags for our safety, and picked a meet-up spot. During this time, we also shared with students how to safely walk and bike to school. We used Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to document the day. It was a huge success.

If you are interested in planning a Walk/Bike Day for your school, this website has resources to help.

I recognized early on that this day should be celebrated every day. Parents who are choosing to walk or bike to school should identify safe routes that prevent accidents. The National Center for Safe Routes to School programs examine conditions around schools and conduct projects and activities that work to improve safety and accessibility and reduce traffic and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. As a result, these programs help make bicycling and walking to school safer and more appealing transportation choices, encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.

As a car rider parent, I recognize that I need to do my part as a driver. It is important that I am aware of school zones, children and parents crossing the streets, and the driving laws in and around our schools. Driving safely in and around the school zones helps reduce the number of accidents involving children and their parents headed to school.

Green Elementary is located on Six Forks Road. If you are familiar with Six Forks, then you know mornings and afternoons are busy. We have a good amount of Green students walking to school and crossing the busy intersections. Parents at Green have reached out to the Raleigh Police Department (RPD) and Raleigh City Council members regarding the need for a crossing guard for the safety of our parents and students. Parent Sarah Chesser received responses from Council Member Patrick Buffkin and Captain Mario Campos, and said RPD provided a guard for two weeks but hasn’t since.

While we advocate for more continuous RPD presence on Six Forks, we try to make sure that we do our part as parents while in and around the school zones. Walking and biking to school are such amazing ways to get moving, but we also want to make sure that we are safe while doing it. 

Kiara Ruth

Kiara Ruth is a wife, boy-mom of a public school student, and writer for The Banana Moon lifestyle blog.