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Sonoma County students come out for Walk and Roll to School Day

It was a bit brisk Wednesday morning for a bike ride, but pedal they did - and walk, and blade and scooter - all across Sonoma County, as students took part in International Walk and Roll to School Day.

At Sonoma Mountain Elementary School, students met up about 7:30 a.m. on the bike path where parent volunteers handed out snacks and juice, and then they all took off together - more than 100 kids in brightly colored helmets streaming along, with a golden Sonoma Mountain rising behind them.

They locked up their bikes at campus, and, red-cheeked from the morning cold, rushed to class.

“You should feel how cold my hands are!” said one girl in a white unicorn helmet.

Aliah Klaas, 6, bladed in a pink cat helmet, topped off with a tiara. Her mother, Kristin Klaas, 49, followed along behind with the family’s dogs, Buddy and Lulu. It was the second time the Turtle Creek family participated in the event.

They’re not regular walk and rollers, Klaas said, but Wednesday’s event inspired them to participate again.

More than 60 schools around the county celebrated Walk and Roll Day, which started in 1997 as a way to promote the creation of walkable communities and safe routes to school.

More than 40 countries now participate globally.

In Sonoma County, the program is organized by the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition and its Safe Routes to School program.

According to the coalition, 100 pounds of carbon dioxide are saved every year if one student chooses to walk or ride a mile to school once a week instead of driving.

If every student in the county did that, the coalition said, it would save 3,532 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that’s the equivalent of 677 cars driven for a year.

Sonoma Mountain Principal Michele Gochberg cycled from the bike path with her 5-year-old daughter, Isabella, who started kindergarten at Sonoma Mountain this year.

Gochberg has been principal for four years, and the mother-daughter pair participated in the event before Isabella could bike on her own. In those years, she joined her mom in a stroller.

“She thinks she’s been a student here for as long as I’ve been principal,” Gochberg said, laughing.

You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205 or christi.warren@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @SeaWarren.

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