Stateline conference next week to focus on bicycles and schools |

Stateline conference next week to focus on bicycles and schools

Adam Jensen
Nevada Appeal News Service

Innovative ways to get kids safely to school will be the focus of a two-day conference in Stateline next week.

The Nevada Bicycle and Pedestrian Conference has been held in several cities throughout the Silver State, but will return to Stateline for the third straight time.

“In its sixth year, this conference is truly the state’s foremost event for bike and walking enthusiasts, advocates, engineers, administrators, educators and consultants,” said Nevada Department of Transportation Bicycle/Pedestrian Program Manager Eric Glick in a press statement. “It’s a chance to come together and realize different approaches to improve the needs of the bicycling and walking public.”

While the conference agenda covers a wide scope of topics, this year’s focus will be on walking and bicycling to school.

Barb Alberson, a presidential appointee to the National Safe Routes to School Task Force, will be the event’s keynote speaker.

Alberson said finding creative methods to get children to school could be instrumental in keeping kids safe and healthy.

“Walking and biking are free and easy ways of being active that can reduce the risks of obesity and adult on-set diabetes,” said Alberson.

Safety concerns often prevent parents from letting children engage in these more active ways of getting to school.

Two of her suggestions to ease fears about the safety of students walking and biking alone included “walking-school buses” and “bicycle trains,” where a parent supervises groups of kids on their way to and from school.

Bill Story, Nevada’s Safe Routes to School coordinator, agreed the human element is especially powerful when it comes to solving the issue of chaotic transportation scenes common around schools.

“You can’t always engineer your way out of a problem,” said Story. “You can put a million dollars into a crosswalk area and I’m probably still not going to let my kid go across 10 lanes of traffic.”

Although Story was referring to Las Vegas, similar sentiments can be heard nearly everywhere, including at the South Shore.

“I think there are some safety concerns, but no more than any other community,” said Dave Hamilton Lake Tahoe Community College Theater Director and board member of the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association. “There just needs to be more options.”

Fostering creative transportation solutions is just what the Nevada Bike and Pedestrian Conference aims to do.

The theme of this year’s conference, “Walking and Bicycling to School” was inspired by the first round of federal grants issued to state transportation agencies under the National Safe Routes to School Program, according to Story.

“Safe Routes to School programs use a variety of education, engineering and enforcement strategies that help make routes safer for children to walk and bicycle to school and encouragement strategies to entice more children to walk and bicycle,” according to the national Safe Routes to School Web site.

2007 Nevada Bicycle and Pedestrian Conference

When: April 12 and 13

Where: Montbleu Resort Casino and Spa

Cost: $195