Thursday, April 29, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
While the inaugural Nevada Moves Day has been in the works for months, events of the last week have demonstrated the importance of teaching children safety while walking or biking to school.
“We’ve seen in the last three days that drivers and children are not aware of what we need to do to be safe on the streets,” Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian said.
Nevada Moves Day was designed to raise awareness, said Rebecca Kapuler, the state Safe Routes to School coordinator and creator of the day, which was observed Wednesday at 37 schools in seven Nevada counties.
Kapuler said she wanted a day the state could set aside to not only encourage children to ride bikes and walk to school, but to teach them to do so safely.
To that end, Tarkanian and Councilman Ricki Barlow visited Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy to demonstrate safe bike riding and to give away six bicycles donated to the elementary school students.
“Ultimately we’d like to have people leave their cars at home and have kids walk or take a bicycle to school, because we want to reduce the congestion of cars in the vicinity of schools,” Kapuler said.
The day had at least one convert: Barlow, who took an early morning bicycle ride to work with Regional Transportation Commission General Manager Jacob Snow.
“My wife said I’ll have to start doing it once a week,” Barlow said. “I think I can do that.”
Barlow said it took him 33 minutes to bicycle to work, the same amount of time it takes him to drive to City Hall in traffic on U.S. 95.
“And look at the impact that I made riding my bicycle,” he said. “I improved my health and wellness, I reduced my carbon footprint and I utilized the money we received for bike lanes.”
Barlow helped secure grants earlier this year to have bike lines added to many streets in his ward, which previously had none. “I want to change the culture in our community,” he said.
Marsha Irvin, the chancellor of Agassi Prep, said the school has benefited from bike lanes near the campus, and the donated bicycles will help encourage students to ride to the school, which provides no bus service.
Irvin attended the first meeting of the Ward 5 Bicycle Advocacy Coalition to get the lanes installed.
“To see how far we have come is thrilling,” she said.
The event also reinforces the school’s efforts to encourage children to be active and live a healthy lifestyle, Irvin said.
“Just getting the children and adults out and moving about the community is the right message to get out,” she said.