Today (Wednesday) is "Walk & Roll Day" on Palo Alto school campuses, in which students get treats for using human-powered or carpool transportation to school.
Across the school district, teachers and parent volunteers stood at gates to campuses and bike cages to hand out stickers and candy.
"Palo Alto students are bucking the national trend of being driven to school," said Fairmeadow parent Penny Ellson, a member and former chair of the PTA Council Traffic Safety Committee.
Children who walk or bike to school have higher daily levels of physical activity and better cardiovascular fitness than kids who get driven, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The past decade has seen a significant boost in the number of Palo Alto kids biking to school, according to tallies taken on campuses each September.
As of last fall, 33 percent of Gunn High School students and 32 percent of Palo Alto High School students bicycled to school, up from 11 percent and 15 percent a decade ago, according to counts compiled by a city-school traffic safety group.
In the middle schools, more than 50 percent of Jordan students; nearly 50 percent of JLS students and more than 30 percent of Terman students rode their bicycles to school last fall.
The numbers for 2010 have not yet been compiled, but parent volunteers say the trends remain positive.
"Several schools, including Paly and Gunn, are adding bike parking again this year. JLS and a number of elementary schools added bike parking spaces over the last several years," Ellson said.
Research on children's active commuting to school has "expanded rapidly" in recent years, driven largely by international declines in rates of walking and bicycling to school and the noted health benefits of active commuting, a CDC abstract said.