MONTCLAIR, NJ – Montclair students and families celebrated International Bike & Walk to School Day and Crossing Guard Appreciation Day on Wednesday.
The Montclair Police Department and Bike and Walk Montclair collaborated to present a visual demonstration of a protected bike lane for students. Two blocks of the street leading up to Renaissance Middle School were designated as Montclair’s first protected Bike Lane to commemorate this occasion.
Bike and Walk to school was also celebrated at other district schools, as well. Gray Russell, Sustainability Officer for the Township of Montclair was on hand at his alma mater Mount Hebron to greet students. “It’s fantastic to see so many kids walking and biking to school today. They’re really energized,” said Russell. “It’s great that Montclair participates in this important international effort. It’s about changing the culture.”
The protected lane was usable from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. eastbound on Walnut Street from Park Street to North Fullerton Ave., and northbound on North Fullerton from Walnut St. to Rand Place (across from Renaissance). It was staffed by police officers and separated from traffic by safety cones, temporary lane markings, and fall décor.
Renaissance was chosen as the flagship school for this event because it was Montclair’s pilot Safe Routes to School (SRTS) in 2005, and helped Montclair to win a district-wide Gold SRTS award from NJ SRTS and the NJ Dept. of Transportation in 2014.
Montclair Police Sergeant Tyrone Williams of the Community Service Unit, who was stationed in front of Renaissance, said many members of the Montclair Police Department were out and about today. “We all got on our bikes to support the program and our pop (up) lanes. One of our guys is even out there on a Segway!”
The Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago in 1997, modeled after the United Kingdom’s walk to school events, and communities around the United States have been celebrating Walk to School Day ever since.
The event was established as “International” in 2000, when Canada and the U.K. joined with the U.S. to celebrate. Communities and schools use this day as the first step to change community culture and to create options for getting around that are more inviting for everyone, both young and old.
Some reasons to support walking and bicycling to school:
- It’s fun — walking and bicycling bring a sense of joy and independence;
- It encourages healthier habits — the trip to school is a chance for children (and adults) to get the physical activity they need;
- It promotes a cleaner environment — Replacing car trips to school with walking or bicycling can reduce congestion and air-polluting emissions;
- It promotes safety and supports neighborhood connections.
This community initiative is promoted with the aniticipation that students and families will continue to bike and walk to school daily.
Crossing Guard Appreciation Day was also celebrated as a reminder to students and their families to thank crossing guards for keeping children and community members safe on their way to and from school each day.