On my way to work last week, I passed a group of 15 teens biking to our local high school. A number of the group wore reflective gear and helmets. They were all obeying the rules of the road.
I passed the group slowly and gave them a thumbs-up. The kids waved and cheered. I learned later that the kids are participating in a new movement known as Bike to School.
About Bike to School
The Bike to School movement is gaining momentum in the United States. It supports sustainable transportation and encourages healthy lifestyles by encouraging teens to ride their bikes to school.
According to the National Center for Safe Routs to School, Bike to School programs benefit teens and the community. For kids, biking to school means better health and overall well-being. For the community, biking programs ease traffic congestion and increase support for sustainable transportation.
Why Kids Should Bike To School
The Bikes Belong Coalition, a national alliance of bicycle trade professionals, reports that over the past 40 years, more kids than ever are using passive transportation, such as cars and buses, to get to school. They’ve also noted that the decrease in active transportation to school, through walking or biking, has correlated with a national increase in childhood obesity. By encouraging kids to bike to school, they hope to provide our children with a healthier future.
Support from Parents
You can support Bike to School programs by encouraging your teens to participate and by assisting them in mapping out a safe, bike-friendly route to school. Help your teen find bike-friendly routes on sites like MapMyRide. Take some time to check out your teens’ bikes and make sure they are in good working order. Finally, review bike safety rules with your teens and encourage them to wear helmets and reflective gear.
Support from the Community
Community members can encourage Bike to School programs by contacting their local school districts and voicing support for the programs. Community members can also exercise caution and courtesy when they encounter kids and teens biking.
Reduce your speed when passing bicyclists. Wait for oncoming traffic to clear before passing slowly. When you pass, give the cyclists at least 3 feet of space. Increase distances in adverse weather. Don’t blast your horn as you may startle the cyclists.
Bike to School Day Coming In May
Your community can increase participation in Bike to School programs by participating in Bike to School Day on May 9, 2012. The intent for Bike to School Day is to build on the success of Walk to School Day, which generally occurs in October. The program encourages schools and communities to participate in safe, bike-focused celebration in the month of May.
Nice Job Kids
I’d like to give a shout out to the teens from Normal Community High School who I’ve seen biking safely and enthusiastically to school each day. You’re setting a great example. To parents and teens throughout the country, I’d like to encourage you to develop and support Bike to School programs in your neighborhoods.