Involving Public Officials

We had over 7,000 walk this morning at 37 schools! At our lead school, the Mayor, Director of Metro Schools, Metro Council members, several School Board members, Director of Public Health, Director of Public Works, and several other dignitaries participated. We had marching bands, Shriners horses, children's choirs, banners, singers, healthy snacks, sneaker stickers, and walk checklists completed by parents. All the schools participating had a wonderful experience on a beautiful day. We accomplished our goal of raising awareness about the benefits and safety of walking.
– Event organizer, Tennessee

Having local public officials see firsthand what needs to be done can make a big difference in getting  improvements in walking and biking conditions such as new sidewalks, crosswalks or trails. Walk and bike to school events provide a way for officials to demonstrate their support for health, environment and safety issues, so be strategic in your invitations depending on the event’s goals. Is speeding a problem that needs law enforcement’s attention? Does a city planner need to see where sidewalks would make a difference? Consider asking officials to be involved in the following ways:

  • Joining a walking school bus or bike train.
  • Leading your walk.
  • Issuing an official Walk to School Day or Bike to School Day proclamation.
  • Giving a short keynote speech at the event.
  • Holding a press conference at the start of your walk or at school when walkers arrive. Urge school and public officials to commit to specific steps they'll take to make it easier to walk all of the time.
  • After the event, present them with the results of walkability and bikeability checklists and ask for their assistance in making identified improvements.

Not sure who to invite? The following officials have participated in walking events around the country:

  • City council members
  • City managers
  • City transportation officials
  • Mayors
  • County managers
  • County commissioners
  • Law enforcement chiefs
  • Fire chiefs
  • State or local pedestrian/bicycle coordinators
  • State secretaries of transportation
  • Governors
  • Members of Congress