HASTe works in a field called Active and Safe Routes to School. We try to balance our efforts to keep kids safe on their daily journey, with encouragement to make that journey an active, and therefor healthy, fun and green, one. When something like this comes along, it's disappointing, because it tips the balance past the promotion of safety, and into the promotion of fear.
Find out more about this misguided new infographic after the break.
In less than fifty years, walking to school has gone from a normal, everyday occurrence, to a controversial act that is either courageous or questionable, depending on your perspective. During that time, road safety in North America has improved considerably - but children's rates of active travel, and physical activity and health more broadly, have decreased alarmingly.
Active and Safe Routes to School is a movement to turn back the clock on this particular issue. It recognizes that our children have lost things that are fundamental to their healthy growth and development - independence, freedom of movement, and a connection to their community - that we need to help them reclaim.
There's no magic bullet to get children and families out of their cars and back in their sneakers. We're working with schools through events like Bike to School Week, and one-at-a-time through School Travel Planning, to help them uncover the barriers keeping their students from walking and cycling, and work to overcome them.
But flashy efforts like Safe Kids Worldwide's interactive infographic are definitely not part of the solution: they fan the flames of fear parents have about their children's safety, and place the burden to "stay safe" on the most vulnerable members of our community.
So go ahead, click the link, and learn about the many ways children are at risk on their streets and in their communities. Then please, do your part, as a parent, driver, advocate, etc. to keep them safe - while at the same time helping them be active, healthy and happy.
And if you have a minute, drop Tamara Grider, Director of Public Relations at Safe Kids Worldwide an email, and let her know that more fear is not the answer.
HASTe staff were invited to teach a special topics course on active school travel at Langara College in Vancouver. This was an exciting opportunity, because although the longform of our name includes that catchall "SCHOOL", it's not often we get to work in a post-secondary environment.
The course was attended by students and faculty from the Applied Planning Program and focused on the benefits of active transportation and how it applies to planning for communities, campuses, and cities. Learn more about HASTe's approach to these topics after the break.
Of course, we were most interested in what students thought of the transportation situation at Langara, so we spent the afternoon in breakout groups discussing issues related to active travel to and from campus. Key stakeholders from the College, including staff from TravelSmart joined the class to help lead the discussion and explore potential solutions.
The session ended with a list of action items for Langara as it applies to improving active travel on and off campus. We're excited for the next steps!
Thanks again to Kathryn Nairne for the invitation and Raymond Yeung and Marriee Devereaux for participating in the workshop.
Just in time for back-to-school, PeopleForBikes recently released some interesting new statistics on youth and cycling. The news is mixed, with some really positive information:
And some related statistics that are a bit less sunny:
To see the full picture, click here.
There was a time when only environmentalists and free-range-parents would advise you to let your kids walk to school. Well, there was a time when everyone walked to school, but let's keep this 21st century.
This year, walking to school - or, even better, letting your children do so unaccompanied - officially went mainstream, with an endorsement by that venerable Canadian journalistic institution, The Globe and Mail. To be fair, the editorial notes that walking to schools is "a subversive act" and warns readers that they will "to earn the opprobrium of [their] fellow parents."
But hey, it's a start. Click here to read the full article.
This past spring, HASTe helped organize the first-ever Car Free Festivals in Vancouver for high schools. Great events to promote active travel and kick off a car-free summer. Click here to find out more.
Car Free Schools was developed as a test model for car-free events at Vancouver schools. HASTe set out to improve collaborations and partnerships on school transportation issues and to reduce driving rates to Vancouver schools, and of course, have a little fun doing it! With the help of student leaders at Sir Winston Churchill, Eric Hamber, and Windermere Secondary, each school was able to create a festival that attracted a captive student audience and promote the idea of active travel by shutting down the street to cars and opening it to creative ideas and programming.
The numbers speak for themselves:
• approximately 3000 participants at all 3 festivals
• 250 volunteers
• 120 activity leaders
• 3 core organizing teams
Each school is excited to run the event again next year and additional schools have expressed an interest in participating as well.
Thanks to all the supporting organizations who helped to make this an incredible success and we look forward to next year's events!
Read the editorial from the Metro News.