On May 9, the Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) Program continued its long tradition of celebrating Bike to School Day in conjunction with Bike to Work Day, the latter of which is sponsored by our friends at Bike East Bay. This year, more than 100 schools registered and approximately 4,600 students participated.
By making active transportation fun and collaborative, Bike to School Day inspires people to start changing their behavior.
Because it’s really about the fun, isn’t it?
That’s what we try to tell the students we work with in the Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools Program — that it’s about the joy and freedom of biking, the empowerment of moving your own body from one place to another. Of course, they will soon realize how it helps their communities, the planet, and their bodies. But the sheer fun of it seems to be enough!
Students at Niles Elementary in Fremont said, “I like to go fast and feel the wind on my face!” and “I like biking because I get to be outside with my friends.”
Students at Brier Elementary in Fremont said, “I feel healthy that I exercised and had fun”, and “it was my first time riding a skateboard and it felt good.”
Sylvia Mendez and Malcolm X, two elementary schools in Berkeley, multiplied the fun, freedom, and empowerment by creating one giant bike train with families from both schools! After both bike trains met up on the way to school, they attended a helmet and bike decorating party at the Sports Basement Energizer Station sponsored by Bike East Bay.
Bike to School Day gives students and their families an opportunity to try out new things and create new norms together. That was the case at Manzanita Community School in Oakland, where one student rode his bike beyond his block for the first time ever, going all the way to school with his parents. Another Manzanita student rode her bike to school by herself for the first time. At Emerson Elementary in Berkeley, students filled the bike racks for the first time.
It is in the repetition and reinforcement of those joyous first-time events that children learn that they want active transportation to be integral to their lives and communities. With this type of awareness, we hear heartening things like what Risha Krishna, Vice Principal at Joe Michell School in Livermore said: “I have many families whose kids are now going to make it a point to bike every Thursday of the week.”
So bike on — on Bike to School Day, and every day!