October is International Walk to School Month

October is International Walk to School Month with the emphasis on October 6 as Chapel Hill celebrates International Walk to School Day.  The Go Chapel Hill program coordinates the Walk to School Day as part of the Town of Chapel Hill’s efforts to reduce traffic congestion, keep the air clean and encourage active healthy lifestyle.  The Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools annually have 5 – 8 schools that participate in the International Walk to School Day, reducing morning peak hour traffic by approximately 850 – 1000 cars.  Through the Safe Routes to School program, students and families are encouraged to walk, bicycle, scooter or use other healthy means to get to and from school.  Some families coordinate and gather annually at certain meeting spots to enjoy the social aspects of walking to school together— teachers will also walk as an encouragement in the efforts .  Parents and teachers comment that the program promotes healthier lifestyle, offers parent/child time together, gives students an energy boost for a clear and ready minds for learning, and offers opportunity for healthy emotional growth through the social aspects of students walking together.  Each school determines the level of participation in the Walk to School Day according to location, student population and other events scheduled for that week.

Active Wednesdays— Throughout the year, students are encouraged to continue using alternative transportation to get to and from school, especially on Wednesdays!  Alternative transportation includes school buses, Chapel Hill Transit, carpools, walking, cycling, scooters and other means of healthy transportation.  And as always safety comes first for whichever style of transportation is used to get to and from school!

More information can be found on the websites at International Walk to School Day: www.walktoschool.org or the Safe Routes to School program at www.saferoutesinfo.org .  For more information regarding the local Walk to School efforts contact Len Cone lcone@townofchapelhill.org at the Town of Chapel Hill 968 – 2728.  Information regarding alternative transportation in Chapel Hill can also be found at www.gochapelhill.org .

Go Chapel Hill Recognized at Chamber Event

On Thursday September 16th, Go Chapel Hill was recognized at the Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours event at Kildare’s.  Go Chapel Hill Town Staff spent the evening explaining the program and promoting alternative transportation.  Businesses signed up to have Go Chapel Hill make a presentation to their staff touting the benefits of leaving their cars at home and committing to a healthier commute.

If you would like to sign up to have a presentation at your place of work, or if you have a question, please email Len Cone at: lcone@townofchapelhill.org

Car Free Day is Wednesday, September 22 – All Day Long!

As part of the Town efforts to reduce traffic congestion, increase air quality and make for all around healthier lifestyle, let’s look for great ways to get to work or school on time this coming Wednesday, September 22nd, without using a car!  If nothing else, find a way to add people to your car  (reducing vehicles on the road) or reduce miles driving by taking advantage of Park & Ride areas where you can catch Chapel Hill Transit for a fare free ride!

Following are great ways for making our lives and our community healthier, greener and all around an even better place to work and play!

Bicycle – Bike racks are on the front of all Chapel Hill buses if needed!  Tip:  Remember bike helmets can make a big difference if a fall occurs.

Walk or Run – Enjoy the time for thought, cool Fall air and the healthy breathing that walking or running brings!  Tip:  Remember to be careful to watch carefully at all crossings, and be sure to be able to hear what’s going on around you (watch that music level)!

Scooter, Rollerblading & Skateboarding – Helmets are important with these modes of travel, as well as listening for warnings on your journey!

Carpool – If all else fails, having more people in your car and less cars on the road still makes a significant difference to our air quality as well as reducing traffic congestion.  Tip:  Watch out for the other drivers on the road as well as all those that will be walking or cycling!

Chapel Hill Transit: The Town of Chapel Hill has a great fleet of buses offering fare free rides anywhere in Chapel Hill – Carrboro.  Triangle Transit offers service into Chapel Hill from all over the Triangle area including Pittsboro and Hillsborough!  Tip:  Riding the bus offers time to collect your thoughts, read, meet new people or just enjoy not driving  to work!  To find the best routes and times for using transit, check out the Trip Planner at www.GoTriangle.org – just add the times of travel and where you’re going – and the best routes and times will be offered to you for your planning!

Driving Less – Feeling Great!

Chapel Hill receives Bicycle Friendly Community national designation

Chapel Hill is already known as a bike-friendly town. Now, the League of American Bicyclists has designated the town as a bronze-level “Bicycle Friendly Community.”

The Bicycle Friendly Community program helps communities across the country learn how to become bicycle friendly and offers examples from communities large and small across the country who have successfully built bicycling into their city plans.

“We are very proud to be part of this prestigious program,” said Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. “Chapel Hill will continue its efforts to become more accommodating to cyclists, whether they are recreational bicycle riders or serious bicycle commuters. We want to encourage cycling as a reliable mode of every day transportation.”

The award is presented only to communities with remarkable commitments to bicycling. The decision involved careful review of an application and consultation with local cyclists. There are four levels of the award – platinum, gold, silver, and bronze. Chapel Hill’s designation of bronze is valid for four years and will then need to be renewed. Other Bicycle Friendly Communities in North Carolina are Carrboro, Durham, Cary, Charlotte, Davidson and Greensboro.

Applicants complete a detailed online form with questions in five key areas: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation/planning. Bergen Watterson, a UNC-Chapel Hill student interning with the Town of Chapel Hill Planning Department, completed the application for Chapel Hill to the national designation program.

For more information about the Town’s efforts to increase bicycling in the community, visit http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=127 or http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=130 or http://gochapelhill.org. For more information about the Bicycle Friendly Community Program, visit www.bicyclefriendlyamerica.org.