Bay Area parents, students walk and roll to school Wednesday

As part of International Walk and Roll to School Day, Bay Area parents, students and city officials pedaled, rolled and strolled to classrooms Wednesday in an effort to leave their cars at home.

Communities from more than 40 countries are participating in the International Walk and Roll to School Week and today, more than 75 elementary and middle schools in Alameda County are walking and riding bikes, skateboards and scooters to school, according to a press release from the Alameda County Transportation Commission. The event’s goal is for everyone to learn more about their environment and get to know their neighbors as they exercise their way to school.

Kaiser Permanente has partnered with the Safe Routes to School, the organization which sponsors the Walk and Roll to School Day program to encourage families to walk to school. Mayors and supervisors from Union City, Fremont, Hayward and San Leandro greeted pedestrians when they arrived at school.

In 2005, federal legislation established a national Safe Routes to School Program. In addition to sponsoring Walk and Roll to School Day events in March and October, the program works with school administrators to identify routes near campuses in need of safety improvements such as cross walks or traffic lights.

According to Safe Routes to School’s website, the hope is that bringing the community together on a specific day will increase the number of days that parents choose to walk children to school. Between 2000 and 2006, pedestrian injuries represented 8 percent of accidents involving children and young adults up to 19 years old in the nation, according to the website. The data also indicates that an increase in the number of pedestrians reduces the number of auto-pedestrian and auto-bicycle accidents.

In 2010, more than 3,500 schools worldwide registered in Walk and Roll to School Day, according to the press release. That number is expected to increase this year.