It’s a known fact that kids like to ride bikes. There is something satisfying and freeing about being able to plant feet on pedals, balance confidently on two wheels and propel forward with the wind whipping at your face! During Bike Month, Jenny Almgren and I set out to make sure that all kids and teens were encouraged to experience that feeling on their daily trip to school.
We ran separate programs – Jenny worked with elementary schools, and I worked with middle and high schools. Although the programs were separate and different in many ways, we shared a common goal: getting kids to form the healthy habit of riding their bikes to school.
All 34 elementary schools, 12 middle schools, and 10 high schools that participated in Bike Month deserve a high-five and a pat on the back for their outstanding participation. Through the great efforts of school coordinators, Bike to School Month 2011 was exciting and incredibly successful. The numbers prove it.
There were 3,300 elementary school kids who rode their bikes on Bike to School Day, more than triple the number of kids who rode last year! How exciting to reinforce that kids love to ride (and parents love to ride with them)! Just to give an example of how many riders there were, Bryant had 185 participants, enough that volunteers were scrambling to try and find extra ‘parking spots’ for all the loved and happy bikes. All students who rode their bikes to school received an ‘I love bikes’ sticker to proudly show that they rode their bike to school that day.
Coordinators have been actively turning in trackers from the month, rewarding kids and thanking them for choosing to ride their bikes. The 750 students who rode 1 to 14 times received a cool bike key chain. And the 600 students who rode 15 or more trips received an awesome red reflector blinky light. It was a fantastic event, and Jenny is beyond thrilled with all the volunteers and students who helped make this possible.
While the Bike to School Challenge was different for the older students, it too was very successful. Because middle and high schoolers have more autonomy, less parental influence, and more access to the internet, we decided to set up a Bike to School Challenge website just like the Group Health Commute Challenge website. We had 60 middle and high school students register for the online challenge. Together, they logged a total of 2,291 miles, saving approximately 2,245 lbs. of CO2 from our air and burning approximately 112,000 calories! That is more than we have ever had in the past, and is no small accomplishment!
Special recognition goes to Ben Corwin, a senior at Garfield High School who rode 386 of those miles himself and won the grand prize (an Ortlieb Messenger Bag). Garfield High School and McClure Middle School tied for the highest number of participants with nine students at each school. We held an ice cream party for Garfield on June 13 and brought the bike blender smoothies to McClure on June 23. The rest of the participants were entered into a prize drawing with the probability of winning based on the number of trips each student made by bike. They won Jamba Juice water bottles and Amazon gift cards. Who doesn’t love prizes??
On Bike to School Day, more than 450 middle and high school students rode their bikes throughout the Puget Sound area. I was at Ballard High School that morning and the enthusiasm was a thrill to see. Students in Ballard’s Earth Service Corps club procured donations of coffee and donuts to give to students as they rolled in and the school’s bike racks were absolutely packed.
I can’t wait to hear from students who have stuck with it, and see these records broken again next year!