When the state passed legislation making it illegal for motorists to pass within three feet of a cyclist, the Legislature helped secure the bicycle as a bona fide mode of transportation. Louisiana continues its pedestrian-friendly efforts with the Louisiana Safe Routes to School program, a federally funded initiative that calls on schools, local governments and nonprofits to apply for funding to make biking and walking to school safer and more appealing.
"Kids who walk or ride their bikes to school are more alert. They're more ready to sit still and listen," says Shalanda Cole, state coordinator for the program.
In the past, Louisiana schools have used the money to start bicycle safety education clubs and distribute reflective shirts to students. They can request funds for concrete improvements to travel routes as well.
"For many kids who aren't participating in sports, this is an opportunity to introduce physical activity to them in a way that's not threatening and not intimidating," Cole says.
The deadline for applications is March 1. Orleans Parish Schools that have received funding in the past include Drew Elementary on St. Claude Avenue, International School of Louisiana on Camp Street and Esperanza Charter School on South Carrollton Avenue. — Meginley