Sustainability Spotlight: Learn About the Impact of our Transportation Choices on the Environment

By the Parent Led Sustainability Committee
On Wednesday, May 4 all members of the MCS community are encouraged to consider walking, biking and rolling to school! 

Save the Date April 26 at 6:30 p.m. for PLF about Composting brought to you by the Parent-Led Sustainability Committee!

Why are we doing this?

1. To raise awareness about the impact of our transportation choices on the environment. Did you know that in the United States, transportation accounts for 29 percent of all Greenhouse Gas Emissions, of which 58 percent are due to light-duty vehicles (i.e. personal and for-hire cars).Greenhouse gasses and methane emissions are the number one cause of climate change. 

2. To promote safer streets for all. Safety is a significant obstacle to walking, biking and rolling to school in New York City. Did you know that motor vehicle crashes have consistently been the leading cause of child and adolescent deaths in the U.S. in the past decade? In New York City alone, more than 3,000 people get injured and more than 200 people die every single year in traffic crashes.
  • These deaths are preventable and not mere “accidents.” They are the outcome of a combination of factors such as:
    • Inadequate speed limits
    • Poor visibility at intersections, oftentimes due to inadequate street design and/or illegal parking in no parking zones.
    • Unabated road carelessness/recklessness, and lack of safety education
    • Lack of traffic law enforcement and general sense of impunity from perpetrators.
      Illustration credit: Karl Jilg/Swedish Road Administration
On Walk, Bike and Roll to School Day, you can raise your voice about this reality, which must be put to an end, and express your support for an ambitious Vision Zero plan in NYC to address road violence. Kids, persons with disabilities, and the elderly should also be able to go around the city without constantly fearing for their life.

Switching to more sustainable transportation modes, like walking, biking or riding a scooter, for even just a few days a month/week, can make a huge difference in terms of air pollution, traffic congestion, road casualties, and health implications. It’s a good start and chances are that you and your kids will love it!

3. To support healthier lifestyles through active transportation. Walk, Bike and Roll to School Day provides an opportunity for MCS parents, staff and students to exercise.

Exercise helps reduce obesity and the risks for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Active transportation has significant benefits for  under-privileged communities, which are disproportionately affected by diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Walk, Bike and Roll to School Day is also an opportunity to underline that underprivileged communities are significantly less likely to own motor vehicles, while also being at higher risk of living in areas that are less prone to active transportation.

4. To empower children. Walking, biking or rolling to school empowers kids in many ways. It helps them grow into young advocates, making a strong case for kid-friendly, people-centered cities that give a fair share of the public space available to all. 

Did you know that, in New York City, more than 75 percent of public space is devoted to driving and free storage for cars — even though a minority of New Yorkers own a car, and the vast majority of New Yorkers walk, bike, and take transit to get where they need to go. This represents a significant equity gap.
Walking, biking and rolling to school also helps kids grow into more autonomous, independent children, steering their own lives instead of being mere passengers of a vehicle they have no control over. Reduced car-dependency and active mobility have a myriad of emotional and psychological benefits for kids, which are also worth considering on May 4.

5. To save money…and time! Did you know that biking and rolling is one of the most affordable transportation modes (and of course, walking is free!) For just the cost of a monthly Metrocard, you can easily find a second hand bike or a scooter for yourself, or your child - or even receive one as a donation through your local Buy Nothing group! Bikes and scooters also don’t come with parking fees and tickets, insurance premiums or expensive repairs (let alone gas expenses!) Imagine how much you can save in just a year!

In New York City, the speed of a motor vehicle is under nine miles an hour on average throughout the city (and even under five miles an hour in certain areas), so biking and, as a matter of fact, walking is generally a faster option, especially when factoring in the time needed to get to your car or find a cab, and to park and get to your final destination. By contrast, walking, biking and rolling take you directly from your point of origin to your final destination.

How can we do this?

Get organized! Walk, bike or roll to school either as a single family or connect with other families in your neighborhood for maximum impact. While a school-wide Walk, Bike and Roll to School Day cannot be put together by MCS or the parent-led Sustainability Committee this time around, take advantage of the coming weeks to organize within your family and with other families.

Safety comes first! Secure an adequate ratio of grown-ups (or older teenage kids) and younger kids to the walk or ride.

If biking, review bike laws and make sure that all kids wear a helmet (it’s required by law).

Make sure that supervising family members have identified the safest itinerary, and conducted reconnaissance, beforehand. If biking, be aware that there are plenty of bike lanes in New York (also available through Google maps by selecting the “biking” layer setting), but not all are created equal. Some are protected bike lanes, others are only shared lanes, so don’t just trust what the map says. In certain areas, cars and trucks are also known to routinely park on bike lanes, so be sure to be aware in advance if you need to avoid those that are not practicable with kids.

**If supervising multiple children, communicate clearly that a Walk, Bike and Roll to School ride is not a race and that racing may jeopardize safety.

Show your support and your pride! Make yourself heard and seen by wearing high-visibility vests, and using your horn or a whistle, pinning posters about the day to your bike/scooter, or yourself (especially if walking). This will increase the safety of your convoy, but also raise awareness of the celebrations and the fact that kids, like any other New Yorkers, should be able to get to school safely.



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