Bert Groenenberg is an avid cyclist who enjoys riding his bike for freedom and fitness. Groenenberg appreciated the bicycle-themed sculpture in downtown Rossland on a road trip. (Photo submitted)

Bert Groenenberg is an avid cyclist who enjoys riding his bike for freedom and fitness. Groenenberg appreciated the bicycle-themed sculpture in downtown Rossland on a road trip. (Photo submitted)

COLUMN: Safe school streets in Williams Lake could be the road to multiple benefits

This column is an imaginary correspondence between Maddie the Motorist, Byron the Bicyclist and Patty the Pedestrian.

Dear Byron the Bicyclist.

Previously, I wrote to Maddie the Motorist about safe streets around schools.

Well, I thought safe streets was a good idea mainly from a road safety perspective. But here are even more reasons to make walkable, bikeable school zones.

In October, a Kamloops children’s doctor asked its school board to initiate the Safe Streets program. Paediatrician Dr. Trent Smith was supported by Interior Health’s Dr. Carol Fenton.

Dr. Smith sees an increasing number of adult diseases in children. They include Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, fatty liver, ADHT and even mental health concerns. Dr. Smith states he is trained in symptom treatment but not prevention, yet prevention is where we need to be.

Why have the adult diseases become such a problem for children?

In short, children are not physically active enough. Four out of five children have too much screen time. The now normal culture of driving our kids to school is not helping. Dr. Trent stated that one first generation Canadian family within sight of a school drive their kids to school because that is the way it is done here.

Adding a physical education class or joining a team sport isn’t going to accomplish what is needed, stated Dr. Trent. The real solution is for kids to be much more active.

One way is the Safe Streets program. By briefly closing the school street at drop off and pick up times, it encourages students who are driven to use their legs more.

Local kids can walk or bike all the way.

Signed, Patty the Pedestrian

Dear Patty: As a kid, I knew two families who dropped off their kids a block from the school. It was the children’s idea!

Signed, Byron the winter walking Bicyclist

Bert Groenenberg is a cyclist and pedestrian who has mainly biked or walked to work for 30 years.

Read more: OPINION: Sharing the Cariboo Roads

Read more: COLUMN: Imagine children able to ride or walk to school



ruth.lloyd@wltribune.com

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