Motorized vehicles emitabout 25% of the world's total carbon. A large number of trips are made to school every day. If these trips are conducted by walking or bicycle, it is possible to significantly reduce carbon emissions and contribute to prevent climate crisis. In order to raise awareness about the importance and necessity of walking and cycling to schools, the month of October is celebrated every year as the month of 'Active and Safe Routes to School'. Walking and cycling to school can positively impact physical and mental health.At present, 67% of the total deaths in the country are caused by non-communicable diseases and lack of physical activity has multiplied its severity. Walking and cyclingto school caneasily compensate the need of physical activity. It will also provide the opportunity to socialize and know the surrounding environment, resulting in improved mental health. In addition, the risk of covid contagion will reduce.
It is important to improve the walking and cycling environment to encourage students to walk and cycle. Speakers opined such at an awareness program titled "Ensure Active and Safe Route to School to reduce risk of COVID and non-communicable diseases" in front of Rayerbazar High School on October 25, 2021 at 10:30 am.
Mr. Tahajjot Hossain, Assistant Teacher of Rayerbazar High School, in his welcome speech said, most of the students of Rayerbazar High School commute to school by walking. Due to lack of safewalkingenvironment, they face various problems and even accidents. Through this program, we want to draw the attention of the relevant authorities to create asafe and convenientwalking and cyclingenvironment.
Ziaur Rahman, Senior Project Officer, Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust, said October is celebrated as ‘Active and Safe Route to School’ month around the world to raise awareness among students about importance of walking and cycling. Despite various obstacles, most of the people of Dhaka city travel on foot. If a safe walking environment is ensured for the students, then people of all ages will be benefitted.
Gaous Pearee, Director of Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust said, walking at least 30 minutes a day is essential for good health. If we develop the habit of walking within short distances, the travel demand will be met, also it will be possible to prevent various non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc. As we know, the risk of coronavirus contagion is reduced in the open space. Thus, the risk of coronavirus can be reduced by walking.
The students demanded speed control of vehicles to ensure safe walking environment, no honking, constructing adequate footpath and maintain regularly, zebra crossings, necessary signs and signals, public toilets, ban illegal parking and seating arrangements.
Ms. Meherunnesa, Headmaster of Rayerbazar High School said that due to lack of adequate playgrounds and parks in the city, children do not get the opportunity to conduct necessary physical activity. Walking can meet the need. Therefore, the government should take necessary steps to encourage the students to walk regularly to the school as well as to create a safe walking environment.
The program was moderated by Md. Kabirul Islam, Physical Education Teacher of Rayerbazar High School. Officials of Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust, teachers and students of Rayerbazar High School were also present in the program.