BOULDER, Colo.--(Peopleforbikes.org.)--Research shows that students who bike to school are more physically fit than their peers, and they’re more mentally focused during the school day. With the school year beginning and childhood obesity skyrocketing, programs supporting and expanding safe bike routes to school should be a national priority, says Tim Blumenthal, president of
“Safe places for kids to ride to and from school are safe places for everyone to ride all day, every day”
Forty years ago, 48 percent of U.S. children biked or walked to school. Today, just 12 percent of children arrive at school by bike or on foot. During this period, U.S. childhood obesity tripled, while the number of children driven to school increased nearly 400 percent, also adding to debilitating morning and afternoon road congestion coast to coast.
Twenty-five million U.S. children and adolescents, more than 33 percent, are now considered overweight or obese, or at risk of becoming so. Health care costs for childhood obesity are estimated at $14 billion each year, and Americans spend $150 billion a year treating obesity-related illnesses. Children who bike develop healthy routines to help them reach their full potential, and maintain those habits for life.
Children who bike or walk to school are also more likely to be alert and engaged in classwork throughout the day than kids who are driven. According to studies published by the University of Illinois, fitter kids performed better on standardized tests and had more developed areas of the brain that control attention span and complex memory.
“Kids have enjoyed biking for generations, but in today’s sedentary culture, it is more important than ever for children to ride to school. Bicycling provides daily physical activity when gym classes are being cut from schools,” said Tim Blumenthal, president of Peopleforbikes.org, the nation’s largest unified bicycling movement.
The Peopleforbikes.org movement is working to make bicycling safer across the United States. “Safe places for kids to ride to and from school are safe places for everyone to ride all day, every day,” said Blumenthal. Peopleforbikes.org is asking Americans who care about improving bicycling to sign a simple online pledge at www.peopleforbikes.org. So far, more than 300,000 people have pledged their support, including Lance Armstrong and big-city mayors around the country.
Tim Blumenthal, president of Peopleforbikes.org, has been a national leader in bicycling and bike advocacy for 30 years. He provides expert advice to individuals who want to incorporate biking into their lives and to cities on how to best invest in biking infrastructure.