Walk to School Day was established in 1997 in the United States by the
Partnership for a Walkable America, a national alliance of public and private organizations committed to making walking safer, easier, and more enjoyable.
The event was first launched in this country when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley led a group of local officials and school children on a walk to school to build awareness for the need for walkable communities.
In 1998, several national agencies pledged support of Walk to School Day - the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
, the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE)
, the National Center for Bicycling and Walking
, the National Center for Safe Routes to School
, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
, and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership
. Most of the links provided will take you right to the International Walk to School page posted to that agency's website.
In 2000, Canada and Great Britain, countries with established Walk to School Day programs, joined the United States to create International Walk to School Day. This event now involves pedestrians (and cyclists) from more than 40 countries around the world, all connected on one day by their common interest to get more kids to walk to school.
In August 2005, Federal legislation established a National Safe Routes to School Program that provided $612 million towards Safe Routes to School from 2005 to 2010. Safe Routes to School programs continue to operate in all 50 states and Washington D.C. As of December 31, 2011, due to continuing congressional extensions, the total amount of funding apportioned to states totaled more than $978 million.
The construction of the traffic signal on Education Hill at the intersection of NE 104 Street and 166 Avenue NE and the associated roadway conversion on 166 Avenue NE was funded by a Safe Routes to School grant.
The roots of International Walk to School Day are in Great Britain where, in 1994, a pilot project was started to get more kids walking to school and reduce traffic congestion around school grounds.