An organization called Ride America for Safe Routes is doing exactly what their name suggests by cycling 5,500 miles across the country to raise money and awareness for safe walking and cycling routes to and from school. The riders set out from Key West on February 5th and plan to ride between 50 and 100 miles a day, arriving in San Francisco by the end of April.
The group’s mission is to advocate for bike friendly roads and communities, with the cross country trek designed specifically to take the cyclists through some of America’s least friendly bike cities. In addition to venturing through many locations with poor or nonexistent cycling infrastructure, the riders also plan to make stops in some of the cities that have been doing an exceptional job promoting walking and biking throughout the community.
According to Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the number of children biking or walking to school has declined from 50 percent in 1969 to just 15 percent today. The group hopes to change this figure.
In an interview with the NapervilleSun, Ride America for Safe Routes member Stephanie Palmer said, “I think it’s important for a healthy lifestyle to be active…I also think … having kids incorporate that as part of their day and not having as much traffic congestion around schools as a by-product is good for the environment.” It was this desire to promote a “healthy outdoor active lifestyle…while being safe at the same time,” that attracted Palmer to the 5,500 mile tour.
Palmer says, “I’m hoping to reach as many people as we can, to raise as much awareness and money as we can, and get more people excited about biking and making it a part of their lifestyle.”
On their way to San Francisco, the group plans to make advocacy stops at schools as well as host workshops and events for the communities they pass through. Funds collected will go to support the League of American Bicyclists and Safe Routes to School National Partnership, both non-profit organizations that promote bike-friendly communities across the country.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cafemama/5520445218/