IL Senate approves bill that would require K-8 schools to teach safe biking and walking skills

For immediate release

May 31, 2018

 

Media Contact:

Ted Villaire
Communications Director
Active Transportation Alliance
35 E. Wacker Dr., Suite 1735
Chicago, IL 60601
312-216-0484 (office)
312-563-1118 (mobile)

 

IL Senate approves bill that would require K-8 schools to teach safe biking and walking skills
Legislation would boost biking and walking safety for kids


Chicago, IL, May 31, 2018—Every day in Illinois, an average of 5 kids are hit by a driver of a motor vehicle within one block of a school, and more are hit beyond the school zones. A bill that would help address this tragic daily occurrence while encouraging more walking and biking has passed the Illinois Senate and now heads to Governor Bruce Rauner for approval.

The Bike Walk Education in Schools Act (HB4799) requires K-8 schools to provide biking and walking safety education. Illinois’ School Code requires automobile safety education, but currently there isn’t a requirement for providing instruction on how to bike and walk safely.

“We must do more to ensure the safety of Illinois kids while they are biking and walking,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “This bill would be an important step forward in making Illinois a better place for kids to bike and walk. And these are skills that kids can take with them into adulthood.”

Over the past thirty years, childhood obesity has tripled in the U.S. and Illinois ranks ninth in the nation in obese adolescents ages 10 to 17. Walking and biking safely helps kids get more physical activity, reducing the risk of obesity and promoting good overall health.

Biking and walking to school not only enhances children’s health, these activities help them perform better in school on average. Traveling to school by foot or bike also gives parents more free time and cuts down on traffic congestion.

The Bike Walk Education in Schools Act requires school boards statewide to adopt policies for educating K-8 students about biking and walking safety. School boards determine how best to implement the requirement in their schools. 

Burke said the Active Transportation Alliance thanks the hundreds of supporters who contacted their legislators in support of the bill. Active Trans also is grateful to Rep. Sonya Harper and Sen. Mattie Hunter, the bill's sponsors. 

Another bike safety bill awaits the governor’s signature as well. This bill would add the Dutch Reach method to Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual and add bike safety questions to the state driver’s license exam.

The Dutch Reach method encourages drivers and passengers to reach across their body with their far hand to open car doors after parallel parking, forcing people to look back for approaching cyclists and other traffic before opening the door. Research shows it makes drivers and passengers more aware of approaching cyclists, helping to prevent “dooring” crashes and saving lives.

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About the Active Transportation Alliance

The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that advocates for walking, bicycling, and public transit to create healthy, sustainable and equitable communities. The organization works to build a movement around active transportation, encourage physical activity, increase safety and build a world-class transportation network. The Active Transportation Alliance has more than 20,0000 members and supporters in the Chicago region. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.