Walk and Bike to School Day reflects Tigard's mission to become the 'most walkable city.'

Tigard Mayor John Cook walks to Mary Woodward Elementary with students as part of 'Walk and Bike to School Day.'Around 60 students, parents and staff from Mary Woodward Elementary left their car keys at home last Wednesday morning and opted instead to walk or bike to school as part of Walk and Bike to School Day.

Now in its third year, Walk and Bike to School Day is a partnership among the city of Tigard, the Tigard-Tualatin School District, and Tigard's Safe Routes to School program.

This year, the walkers and bikers were joined by Tigard's mayor, John Cook. He told the Times that he was there to show his support for increased walkability in Tigard, something he has championed as part of the city's 2012 strategic goal to become the most walkable city in the Pacific Northwest.

Cook said a lack of sidewalks and crosswalks posed the biggest safety challenges for kids walking to school, but that improving walkability is a major goal of his. He also said that, although these challenges have always been present in Tigard, walking and biking to school has declined even in the last couple decades.

"When I was a kid, I walked to school all the time," Cook said. "People don't do it as much anymore."

One Tigard family that does bike to school every morning are the Vasiceks. Jennifer Vasicek is a Safe Routes to School volunteer coordinator, and organizes monthly walking and biking events for the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

"In our family, we're really passionate about walking and biking," Vasicek said. "We know it's good for our bodies and our minds, but we also believe it's good for our community and the planet. So we do everything we can to support what the city's doing to enhance the vision for the city. I also do it because I'm a parent and I really care about my kids."

Her son Desmond, a first-grader at Mary Woodward, agreed, saying that he enjoyed biking to school because, "I can get exercise and help the environment."

The Mary Woodward group met Wednesday morning at the dog park area of Summerlake City Park, and then walked about half a mile to their school. Once they arrived, students were rewarded with prizes, including sunglasses and water bottles. Other schools in the district held their own Walk and Bike to School Day events as well.

Aili Schuff, a second-grader at Mary Woodward, also walks to school every day, because "we live very close to the school, and it's good exercise."

Her mom, Beth, said that she hopes to see more people in Tigard walk and bike to school in the future.

"It gets crazy around here in the drive line, so it'd be nice if we got the sidewalks in all over," she said. "That's helping people be able to walk to school, so it's good."

Blair Stenvick
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