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7th Annual Oregon Walk + Bike To School Day gets kids active

PORTLAND, Ore. (5 October, 2005) – They walked, biked, skated, scootered, bladed, even unicycled and jogged to school today. They talked to their friends and neighbors along the way. And most importantly, they had fun while being more physically active. Thousands of Oregon adults and kids took an important step towards establishing a healthier lifestyle by participating in today’s sixth annual Oregon Walk + Bike to School Day.

Oregon Walk + Bike to School Day, which coincides with International Walk to School Week, is organized by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC), the Oregon walk + Bike to School Committee and sponsored by NikeGO, FedEx, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Portland Office of Transportation, DHS, Safe Kids Coalition and others. Through its NikeGO program, Nike contributed a $20,000 grant as part of its commitment to “get kids moving and give them the means to do it.”

"What an exciting turnout! On average about half of the kids from the 61 participating Oregon schools walked or biked today,” said Robert Ping, Safe Routes to School Program Director for BTA/WPC. “We hope that this event inspires kids and parents to improve their health and well-being by walking and biking to school throughout the rest of the school year and in the years to come.”

At Abernethy Elementary School in Southeast Portland, over 200 kids and 40 parents exercised their way to school in groups, or walking and biking “school buses”. And the largest of the groups was a bicycle ?bus’! Many dignitaries attended, including Portland Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams; Portland Mayor Tom Potter’s Chief of Staff, Nancy Hamilton; Oregon State Epidemiologist Dr. Mel Kohn; and Timbers soccer pro Lee Morrison.

NikeGO“NikeGO is proud to support Oregon Walk + Bike to School,” said Molly White, Nike Director of U.S. Community Affairs. “The challenge now is for all Oregonians to continue to support community efforts to create safe routes to walk and bike to school so even more kids can reap the benefits of a physically active lifestyle.”

Walk and bike to school programs represent one of the few proven strategies to get kids more physically active, as called out in publications such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s Promoting Physical Activity: A Guide for Community Action, the Oregon Statewide Physical Activity Plan and the CDC’s Healthy Choices 2010 Report.

Portland Safe Routes to SchoolOregon Walk + Bike to School Day is part of the BTA/WPC’s Safe Routes to School Program and is designed as a vehicle to raise awareness, promote active, healthy lifestyles for children and make streets safer and friendlier for students walking and biking to school. With financial assistance from ODOT, the Safe Routes to School program provides technical advice and assistance to Oregon communities that are considering or launching Safe Routes to School programs, and the BTA created HB2742-A, Safe Routes to Schools, which, in tandem with the recently passed federal SAFETEA-LU Safe Routes to School funding, will provide exciting new possibilities for getting more kids walking and biking to school and improving traffic safety and livability in Oregon school neighborhoods.

The BTA, WPC, Alta Consulting+Design, and the Alliance for Community Traffic Safety in Oregon are partners with the Portland Office of Transportation on the City’s exciting new Safe Routes to School program. Our team provides technical services and education and encouragement programs to participating schools. This comprehensive model program began in September at eight pilot elementary schools in Portland, including Abernethy, Boise-Eliot, Bridlemile, Buckman, Gilbert Park, Lewis, Prescott and Vestal.

"This was great! I bike to school every day with my son, but it was so much fun to have company today that I'm planning to organize a regular biking school bus for my neighbors!" Mark Johnson, parent at Rose City Park School in Portland.

For information on Oregon Walk + Bike to School Day and the Safe Routes to School Program, go online to: www.walknbike.org.

Community partners who helped coordinate this year’s Oregon Walk + Bike to School Day include: Alliance for Community Traffic Safety in Oregon, City of Portland Office of Transportation, Oregon Department of Health Services, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Department of Education/Healthy Kids Learn Better, Oregon Safe Kids Coalition, Oregon Health & Science University/Think First Program and the Oregon Medical Association.

About the Bicycle Transportation Alliance The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is a non-profit organization working to promote bicycle use and to improve bicycling conditions throughout the state of Oregon. Since 1990, the BTA has worked in partnership with citizens, businesses, community groups, government agencies and elected officials to create healthy, sustainable communities by making bicycling safer, more convenient and more accessible.

The BTA is a membership organization, with more than 4,000 members in Oregon and SW Washington. Members provide steady financial support and act as the BTA's eyes and ears in the community, helping to monitor advocacy needs. The BTA also receives funding through individual gifts, corporate sponsorships, contract activities and government and foundation grants. The BTA is guided by a volunteer board of directors from across the state and has a staff of 8 in their Portland office, as well as 5 contractors around the state who teach the BTA's Bicycle Safety Education Program.

About the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC) is a 501(c)3 private non-profit community-based membership organization in the greater Portland area dedicated to promoting walking and making the conditions for walking safe and attractive. WPC was established in 1991 to provide an organized voice for pedestrians, educate people about the benefits of walking and advocate for pedestrian rights and safety. In 1996, after spearheading a series of successful pedestrian actions, WPC branched out nationally to partner with other local pedestrian advocacy groups, including Walk Boston, Walk Austin and Walk New York, to form America Walks. America Walks is a national coalition of local advocacy groups dedicated to promoting walkable communities that has since grown to sixty member groups nationwide. WPC hosted the 2003 International Walking Conference, bringing walking advocates and professional from around the globe to Portland.

About NikeGO NikeGO is Nike's signature U.S. community affairs initiative and the company’s long-term commitment to getting kids more physically active. The program's mission is to increase physical activity in youth, offering them the support and motivation to become physically active, stay healthy and have fun. In its most recent fiscal year, Nike contributed more than $10.5 million in cash and products and served more than 150,000 kids across the U.S. through its programs and partnerships. Visit www.nikego.com for additional information.