Despite drizzling rain and hovering grey clouds, Walk/Bike to School Day on Oct. 10 drew more than 360 participants at two Simsbury elementary schools.
Students, parents, chaperones, faculty and special guests created a celebratory mood before the first morning bell at both Latimer Lane and Tootin’ Hills.
“Our event was a tremendous success,” said Debbie Thibodeau, chair of the Latimer Lane Safe Routes to School Committee. “It clearly showed that the community is interested in making walking and biking to school safer in our neighborhoods. The kids really felt like they did something cool.”
Thibodeau said that she wanted to draw attention to “problem areas” that are barriers to safe walking and biking, such as streets that need additional sidewalks or signage.
Postponed a week due to rain, Walk Bike to School Day was organized by the National Center for Safe Routes to School.
This was Latimer Lane’s first walk/bike event and 222
At Tootin’ Hills, there have been nearly a dozen walk-or-bike days since 2010, according to Susan Masino, chair of the Tootin’ Hills Safe Routes to School Committee.
“We’re trying to plant a seed by raising awareness and letting people know that it is possible to walk or bike to school,” she said, noting that she hopes to see more neighborhood groups self-organize and designate chaperones for regular meet-ups.
“This should not be a once-a-year event,” Masino said. “Walking or biking to school should be a healthy habit.”
Dozens of students, parents and teachers, many with open umbrellas, gathered at the Latimer Lane parking lot adjacent to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail/East Coast Greenway, and walked together to school.
They were joined by Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman, and Sharon Okoye, Safe Routes to School Coordinator for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Several small groups of walkers and bikers from other Latimer Lane neighborhoods also met up with chaperones.
Once at the school, Latimer Lane Principal Grace Morris led a brief ceremony where she congratulated everyone for braving the rain in an effort to promote safe walking and biking. Bracelets and coupons were given to
At Tootin’ Hills, there were more than a half-dozen, chaperoned meeting places, including Mountain Park on West Mountain Road and Town Forest Road Baseball Field.
Walkers and bikers were greeted in front of the school by supportive parents and members of the Tootin’ Hills Safe Routes to School Committee. They received shiny apples, bracelets and bicycle pins.
Also on hand were Tootin’ Hills Principal Ron Perrault, Simsbury Board of Education Business Manager Burke LaClair, and Ann Marie Potter of BikeWalk Simsbury!
Tootin’ Hills parent Joel Hoffmam thought that the event was an excellent way to inspire more students to walk or bike to school, and to remind parents to stop at “STOP” signs near the school.
e said some parents ignore the signs and make it a safety hazard for students.
Hoffman often walks to school with his 10-year-old twins, April and Andrew, since their home is nearby.
“I wish that we could do it more,” he said. “It’s a joy to get a breath of fresh air and not be in a car or bus.”