Spoke Talk: Safe routes aren’t only for kids | SteamboatToday.com

Spoke Talk: Safe routes aren’t only for kids

Paige Boucher / For the Steamboat Today

Riding bikes to school is both physically and mentally rewarding. Upcoming bike rallies at both Steamboat Springs elementary schools will help children learn about bike safety and better prepare them for commuting across town.

— If you haven't experienced the 8 a.m. weekday rush hour in Steamboat Springs, you might be surprised by its magnitude. Parents dropping off kids at school combined with commuters cause congestion on a daily basis. But there is something we can do to stem the growing traffic jam.

Safe Routes to School is not just for school kids. Commuting on foot or by bike can have a positive impact on all residents and visitors. Steamboat has identified the best roads and connecting trails and also has installed new signs with directions, maps, mileage and even QR codes that link to online maps. Crosswalks and bike lanes are being repainted, and more improvements are to come. Check out http://www.saferoutessteamboat.org for the best bike or walking routes around town as well as safety tips.

The next step, however, we must take on as individuals. Commit to leaving the car at home and walk or ride a bike to work. It can often be quicker to make it across town on a bike than in a car stuck in traffic, and walking or riding is both physically and emotionally rewarding. We all know the benefits of walking or riding a bike for our physical health, but more and more research shows that our emotional well-being is positively affected by time spent outdoors. Kids and adults are more pleasant to be around, more creative and more productive after a self-propelled commute to the office. Then, of course, there are the benefits of saving cash at the pump and breathing cleaner air.

Safety on the trails and roadways needs to be a priority if Steamboat is serious about making biking or walking an alternative mode of commuting. It's a priority of Steamboat's public elementary schools, which are gearing up for the Safe Routes to School bike rallies May 31 at Strawberry Park Elementary School and June 1 at Soda Creek Elementary School. Every student in kindergarten through fifth grade will experience age- and skill-appropriate exposure to bike safety and skills. These all-day events require all hands on deck from the schools and depend on dozens of parent and community volunteers. Anyone interested in helping for the day or a half-day can contact me at paige@insideout-pr.com. Full-day volunteers will receive a free lunch from Backcountry Provisions.

Another opportunity to brush up on bike safety is the Optimist Club-sponsored Youth Bicycle Rode from 10 a.m. to noon June 23 at the Stock Bridge Transit Center.

May is National Bike Month and June is Colorado's Bike to Work Month. Take this opportunity to try biking or walking to work. If you live too far outside town to ride or walk, consider parking on the outskirts of town and walking or biking to do your errands. If you have school children, drop them off at Stehley Park or at the intersection of Mckinley and East Maple streets and allow them to enjoy the Butcherknife Canyon trail to school. The entire family might just become hooked.

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