Over 3,000 school-age children — over 30 percent of the total enrollment in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified school District — chose to ride a bike, a scooter or walk to school earlier this month as part of Bike It!, Walk It! Day, sponsors of the effort said Friday.
The annual event, which started in 2005 at Santa Monica High School, has grown over the years to include both Lincoln and John Adams middle schools, every elementary school in Santa Monica, and Point Dume Elementary in Malibu. Over 700 students biked to school, with 229 bikes filling the quad at Santa Monica High, 102 at Lincoln and 94 at JAMS, said Richard McKinnon, Bike It Day chair.
The Bike It! Walk It! event was supported by numerous parent, teacher, student and staff volunteers at each school as a way to encourage regular physical exercise, reduce traffic congestion around schools, and promote “safe routes to school,” a nationwide movement to reinstitute healthy and safe active transportation by school children. The SMMUSD supported such efforts in a 2009 resolution, and participation has been growing each year, McKinnon said.
Students in Samohi Solar Alliance, an environmentalist club, started the event as a way to encourage Samohi students to combat global warming.
The October event tied in with International Walk to School Day, and provided a chance to establish walking or biking to school habits at the start of the school year. City staff helped prepare with maps of safe routes for each school found on the bikeitday.com website, and Santa Monica police and transportation staff kept an eye on safety issues at each school. PTSA members also sold bike helmets on school grounds to make sure students and parents were aware than helmets are required for cyclists under 18.
State of the schools address
A community report on student achievement, initiatives, and the financial health of the local School District will be held in Santa Monica Monday.
The Fifth Annual State of Our Schools will be presented by the school district in partnership with the Santa Monica-Malibu Council of PTAs and Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS).
City Manager Rod Gould will speak about the importance and benefits of a strong relationship between a city and its public schools at the meeting, which is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Main Library’s Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium.
Superintendent Tim Cuneo, Board of Education President Barry Snell, Vice President Kelly Pye, and representatives from the PTA Council and CEPS will speak at both the Santa Monica event and the meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Malibu High School Library, 30215 Morning View Dr.
“Our Santa Monica-Malibu schools pride themselves on excellence and accomplishment — but the district is facing significant challenges,” Cuneo said.
“As parents, community leaders, and concerned citizens, I hope you will take this opportunity to hear the very latest information about our schools and the challenges they face, while being entertained by some of our award-winning student musicians,” Cuneo said. “I look forward to seeing you at one of these events.”
The two educational forums are free and open to all members of the public. Spanish translation is available and light refreshments will be served.