Zaida LaRose, 8, walked her dog, Miso, to school at Helman Elementary this morning.
"This is kind of special," she said, since she normally rides a Vespa with her father, Steve LaRose, to school.
Today was International Walk to School Day, a day sponsored by the Rogue Valley Transportation District and the National Center for Safe Routes to School to encourage alternate modes of transportation to school.
"We live so close, we should be walking or biking every day," Steve LaRose said, a thought event organizers hope more parents will consider.
"We had to prepare just a little bit more, go a little bit earlier, think about your clothes a little more, pay attention to the weather a little more," he said.
"It gets your blood going for the day of school ... look at you, you're smiling," he told his daughter.
Students across the district marked the day by walking, biking and scootering to school, and they were rewarded with breakfast snacks and prizes when they arrived.
At Walker and Helman elementaries, the program has expanded beyond a single day to weekly walking days led by parent volunteers. About 70 kids participate in Walking Wednesdays, said Wendy Conner, who leads the Walker program.
At the John Muir School, a third to a half of all students walk or bike to school, up from about a quarter last year, said third- and fourth-grade teacher Camille Siders. The school has a bike safety course and bikes to Lithia Park every Friday, she said, which has probably led to the increase, along with the increased traffic and parking crunch since Bellview Elementary students moved into the middle school this year.
Ben Lucero, 9, a third-grader at John Muir, said he likes biking better than riding in a car, and the trip is actually shorter than driving and trying to find a parking space, his mother, Pamela Kenyon, said.
"We're really lucky because we're on the bike path, and it's really safe and close," she said.
There are so many reasons to bike to school, she said, such as exercise, gas savings, environmental protection and fun. She and her children bike to school almost every day, even when it rains.
"That's the funnest," Ben said.
Staff writer Julie French can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or email@example.com.