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Does your family think biking and walking is unhealthy, too?

As a proud and happy director of Safe Routes to School for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance I am thrilled to add to my plate the fun hobby of writing for Enviromom. I'm the mama of two precious daughters, Ellie and Libby (in the photo at left), and a rabid bike commuter and recreational rider. Ellie walks to school every day, Libby follows me to preschool in a trailer, and we take over our streets on the weekends to 'bike bus' our way through errands, soccer games and fun trips to the park. That's my home life and I'll have plenty to say - and ask! - about bicycling as a family.

But at work this spring I've been collecting surveys for our Safer Routes to School program that we manage for the City of Portland and the data are pointing toward very fascinating and exciting results. Of course, I can't yet comment on those results since they're not finalized (and therefore not public) but as soon as I can, I'll let you know!

Cliffhanger aside, with the surveys we also gathered parent comments that are just as fascinating. Comments such as, "He loves to bike and its faster" or "I love that you have a program for teaching kids bike safety rules - my son said 'I can't wait for 3rd grade so I can ride my bike'"  are so encouraging!

But one comment in particular strikes me and I'd like to hear more from you. We often find that educating parents on the reality of safety and health concerns is our biggest barrier. How do you politely yet effectively educate adults who have made up their minds about what is best for their children? A parent wrote:

"I will not permit my child to walk or bike to school. It is unsafe and considering environmental toxins such as vehicle exhaust it is not particularly healthy."

What do you have to say? And remember, what we do know is that you catch more flies with honey...


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