BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - October 4th is this year’s International Walk and Bike to School Day, and students and parents all over New Jersey walked and bicycled to school and will be participating in walk and bike events throughout the month of October. Berkeley Heights School District has designated Wednesday, October 11th and 25th as district-wide Walk to School Days.
"The Berkeley Heights Public Schools has worked alongside the Berkeley Heights Police Department, the Town Council and community stakeholders over the last two years to increase opportunities for students to seek out healthier alternatives when it comes to transportation to and from school," said Gov. Livingston Assistant Principal Larry Seid, district coordinator for Safe Routes to School. "During that window of time we have organized Walk to School Days, Bike Rodeos, and educational programs geared towards health and wellness. We are very excited about our upcoming Walk to School Wednesdays on October 11th and 25th."
Council Vice President Jeanne Kingsley has been working jointly with the school district to move forward with a plan for Safe Routes To Schools (SRTS). With the support of the school administration, PTOs and Police Department, they will be working together to form a team of volunteers and implement a plan to address safe routes to school.
NJ Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a statewide initiative to enable and encourage students to safely walk and bicycle to school, according to the SRTS website.
"The Safe Routes to School program was created to encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bike to school. Grants are available to local governments to provide the ability to make pedestrian safety improvements near K-8 schools."
"The goal is to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and to implement projects that will improve safety, and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools," said the New Jersey Safe Routes to School website.
Grants are available through SRTS for infrastructure improvement projects that can include construction of sidewalks, bikeway lanes, and multi-use paths; and the installation of new crosswalks, school-zone markings, and speed-limit signs.
"In a few weeks, the schools will come out with a questionnaire to all the lower school parents to get information of how people currently commute to school," said Kingsley. "I ask that you take this seriously and fill it out -- we are going to need this data to go after grants."
She also talked about the plan for future walking events that will be scheduled in the township.
"We are currently organizing a team, and people should stay tuned because we are going to be looking for involvement and participating in events in upcoming months," said Kingsley.