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Remember the Walk and Roll Program?

For one week, all FUSD elementary schools implement the Walk and Roll Program as a method to instill in students the exigency of climate change. As a part of the initiative, students are encouraged to talk alternate routes to their respective schools to contribute to the cause of reducing fuel emissions.

Illustration by Melody Zhang

By Benjamin Qiao, Praghna Palaparthy, Naomi Lin

Edited: Naomi Lin


1,000,000 species are at risk of extinction by climate change. Widespread motor transportation is one of the major causes of climate change. Global warming affects the world due to the effects it has on the ecosystem, for example the increased sea-ice melting in the Arctic Ocean has reduced the krill population by 80 percent since the 1970s. Climate change causes forest fires whose frequency will potentially increase by up to a third by 2050, and up to 52 percent by 2100. By the end of the century wildlife risks could rise up to 57 percent due to global warming. Transportation alone is responsible for nearly 40% of the Bay Area’s harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Naturally, there will be programs in place to inspire young children to be stewards of their own environment.

Because of transportation’s high emissions, California developed the Safe Routes to School program, which promotes walking and biking to school. A subsidiary of this program that was implemented in Fremont is the Walk and Roll to School program. Originating in Oakland as a pilot project, it has now expanded into a network that includes all of Alameda County.

Around half of the K-12 public schools in Fremont participate in the program, including

American High, Irvington High, Thornton Junior High, G.M. Walters Junior High, and various other elementary schools are participating. However, have you heard of this program since your time in elementary?

Nonetheless, by fall of 2022, the city council and school board aims to include all FUSD public schools in the program to some degree, and by spring 2023, Fremont plans to include all public schools in the program actively.

As per its name, the program intends to encourage members of the school community to use non-motorized transportation to get to school. As an incentive, awards are given out to participants based on their level of participation. Besides lowering carbon emissions, walking or biking to school also helps children get their 60 minutes of recommended daily exercise.

Most schools have similar methods of promoting the Walk and Roll program. In high schools and middle schools mostly no activities or methods of publicizing are held to promote the project, except a few mere posters on the importance of reducing carbon-footprints and such, in some classrooms or hallways from teachers or clubs.

Rarely some eco-clubs and organizations have informational meetings on global warming and climate change, but in most high schools and middle schools that are participating in the Walk and Roll program there is no publicization of the project and its significance.

Various schools participate in the Walk and Roll program. But why is this project more common in elementary school? While researching this, I found out that among 6 teachers that I asked, absolutely none of them were aware of the program. But when I asked a few of my friends, 6 out 8 of these people were aware of the project.

When I asked how they knew, they responded by stating that they were aware of the program due to walk and roll weeks, golden sneaker competitions, and other related activities in elementary school. The other 2 students that were not aware of the program moved from New Jersey, and Ohio after elementary school. This exemplifies that the program is very popular in elementary schools in the FUSD since there is more publicity, and more activities and competitions for students to participate in than middle, and high schools.

Another factor that could add to this is that generally students that lived in the district for a long time start off with buying homes, or renting in apartment complexes near their elementary schools, since it is a district rule to choose your elementary school depending on the distance from the school to the person’s home. So overall the house is closer to their elementary school so walking or biking to school is easier. But when entering into middle or high school, the distance between the home and the school may vary, which makes it tedious for students to walk or bike.

Instead of convincing students to try out walking or biking to school, the better option would be to make walking or biking to school more convenient and appealing. A great example of increasing non-motorized transportation is Copenhagen, which is known as the “bicycle capital of the world.” Bikes alone account for 49% of trips within the city center and bikes outnumber cars in Copenhagen five-to-one.

The number of cyclists isn’t because people there care more about the environment or just like biking more, but rather because of its 250 miles of bike lanes and 48000 bike racks. Although the same scale of its bicycle-friendliness is almost impossible to mimic in Fremont, Copenhagen tells us that the best way to increase non-motorized transport is to make it more convenient. In order to improve Fremont’s status, in non-motorized transportation rates, the city should try to incorporate some of the ideas from Copenhagen into our eco-friendly transportation plans.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation cause about 29% of the total greenhouse emissions from the U.S, making it the largest contributor of the U.S. GHG emissions. Showing that transportation is a major cause of pollution in many cities, such as Fremont, that cannot be ignored. However, significant amounts of money needs to be invested to make a remarkable difference. Instead of convincing people to try out walking or biking with rewards, which is only temporary, the money would be better invested in making them more convenient, which more permanently decreases motorized transportation.

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