Here’s exciting news for those of us who promote bikes and alternative transportation: more than 1000 people, including many community leaders, rode in Bike to School Day events at ten different Rochester-area schools on 9 May. Those events were among thousands nationwide, all held on the same day to promote biking and walking as great ways to get to school.
Biking to school has lots of benefits. At a time when childhood obesity continues to grow as one of our country’s greatest health risks, getting kids biking regularly can keep them in better physical health and form habits for a lifetime of good health. Biking is great for emotional and mental health, too. Biking builds community by allowing neighbors to get to know each other and see the impact schools have on neighborhoods. Biking is brilliant for sustainability because it burns no fossil fuels and emits no carbon dioxide. And of course, biking is fun–one student rider in Brighton said, “Biking to school is so much better than riding the bus!”
Bike to School Day rides took place all over the Rochester area this year. In the city of Rochester, School #23 drew 55 riders, and School #58 drew 50. In Honeoye Falls, Manor Intermediate School had 70 riders. In Pittsford, Calkins Road Middle School had 25 riders, Park Road Elementary School had 40, and Jefferson Road Elementary School had 150. In Brighton, Council Rock Primary School encouraged students to ride all week, French Road Elementary School had 240 riders on 9 May, and Twelve Corners Middle School had over 300. Finally, Indian Landing Elementary School in Penfield had nearly 300 riders.
Community leaders came out to support Bike to School Day in a big way. Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams of the Rochester City School District rode in the event at School #23 and invited her entire cabinet to ride along. Many did, including Carlos Cotto, RCSD Director of Physical Education. RCSD School Board President Van White joined the School #23 ride as well. Penfield Town Supervisor Tony LaFountain and Brighton Town Supervisor William Moehle both greeted students at the event at Indian Landing, along with Penfield School Board President Catherine Dean and School Board Member John Piper. Principals and teachers rode along at many of the events, too. We are grateful to our leaders for taking the time to support kids biking and walking to school!
More thanks go to the area police departments who accompanied riders to ensure traffic safety; to businesses and organizations that donated snacks or prizes, including Park Avenue Bikes, Wegmans, and Common Ground Health; to Zagster for providing Pace bikes, and to school staff who supported the events.
Over 1000 people rode last Wednesday and had a great time. Let’s capture the momentum to get more kids biking and walking to school in the Rochester area! Think about organizing a Bike to School Day event at your own school sometime soon. Organizing requires surprisingly little work, and those of us who’ve done it before would happily serve as resources, so send us an email. Help your own kids bike to school everyday. If the ride seems too much for them to handle alone, talk to neighbors about organizing a bike train: a group of five or ten kids can ride safely together with a couple of grownups to guide them. Ask teachers and school leaders to include bikes in the physical education curriculum if they aren’t already included. You can contact the New York Bicycling Coalition for a ready-made curriculum. And consider doing more of your own daily travel by walking or biking. One teacher in Honeoye Falls said, “I’ve started biking to school myself because I’ve seen your kids doing it.” There’s a great example to follow.