National Bike to School Day Catches On, Shatters Previous Participation Mark

From all 50 states and the District of Columbia, tens of thousands of school children across the country biked to school throughout the month of May as part of the second annual National Bike to School Day. In all, 1,705 schools registered Bike to School Day events—80 percent more than the inaugural national event in 2012—setting a new National Bike to School Day record.
 
“In March, Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute told the National Bike Summit that societal trends are favoring bicycling, that at this moment there is a tremendous bicycle wave rolling through America,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which coordinates National Bike to School Day. “If the success of our second annual Bike to School Day is any indication, I’d say Mr. Katz is on to something.”
 
Students biking to Mt. Erie Elementary School, Anacortes, Washington, on Bike to School DayIn communities across America, schools focused on health, safety, and fun. After all, biking to school is a great way for children to get some of their recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. To keep children safe while they’re staying healthy, schools nationwide organize bike rodeos, bike helmet fittings and bicycling safety instruction as common activities at Bike to School events.
 
For fun, events featured prizes, raffles, poster contests, pep rallies, carnival games, stickers, temporary tattoos, trail openings and ribbon cuttings. From coast to coast, young students learned that biking to school is a fun way to start their day as they felt the wind in their faces and experienced the world around them.
 
“Events like these don’t just happen,” Marchetti said. “These local events are made possible by almost as many thousands of parents, teachers, police officers, school administrators, and others as there are children riding. Bike to School Day is also made possible by supportive elected officials and other community leaders.”
 
This year, the world around Bike to School Day participants was bigger than their neighborhoods. In addition to being part of National Bike Month, Bike to School Day 2013 was part of an international movement called Global Youth Traffic Safety Month. The goal of this effort is to engage and empower youth across the globe to develop and implement youth peer to peer education projects, support increased enforcement of traffic laws and advocate for stronger laws to protect young people on the roads. National partner organizations joining the National Center in celebrating Bike to School Day 2013 included:
  • Global Road Safety Partnership;
  • League of American Bicyclists;
  • National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS);
  • President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition;
  • Safe Kids Worldwide;
  • Safe Routes to School National Partnership; and
  • Saris Racks.
 
Many of those organizations were on-hand at a National Bike to School Day roll-out event in Washington, DC's Lincoln Park, organized by DC Safe Routes to School Coordinator Jennifer Hefferan of the District Department of Transportation and volunteer Sandra Moscoso-Mills. More than 100 young students from a dozen different schools came together at the park to celebrate Bike to School Day, be fitted for helmets, collect stickers and begin their morning rides. Among the dignitaries in attendance were Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez (pictured below) and D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells, who both passed up the chance to make speeches in favor of sending off bike trains and mingling with the students and parents participating in the event.
FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez chats with a student participating in the Washington, D.C., Bike to School Day kick-off event.
While fun is a big part of Bike to School Day for the school children, some communities took the task of organizing events pretty seriously. Two cities really stood out for their efforts, San Francisco, California,  and Anchorage, Alaska. In San Francisco, 52 schools held Bike to School events; 43 schools held events in Anchorage. To see who biked around the country, go to www.walkbiketoschool.org/go/whos-biking/2013.
 
Three other communities near Cleveland, Ohio, stood out not for the number of schools participating, but for the number of students. In Bay Village, Medina and Rocky River, more than 4,000 students at five schools biked to school during the 6th annual Bike to School Challenge which is sponsored by a local bicycle retailer from May 6 to May 24. According to daily bike counts and student surveys, students collectively rode 57,627 miles and took 17,573 roundtrip rides to school during the challenge.
 
As it did in the inaugural year, the National Center for Safe Routes to School and Saris Racks co-sponsored the National Bike to School Day 2013 Bike Rack Giveaway contest to promote Bike to School Day registration. Ten schools won new Saris bike racks in seven weekly drawings held in the lead up to Bike to School Day and in three more drawings held at the end of May when event registration officially ended. The winning schools included:
  • Cherry Avenue Elementary School, West Sayville, New York
  • Don Pedro Elementary School, Ceres, California
  • Dunn Elementary School, Sparks, Nevada
  • El Marino Language School, Culver City, California
  • Glebe Elementary School, Arlington, Virginia
  • Hawthorn Elementary School, Elmhurst, Illinois
  • Malletts Bay School, Colchester, Vermont
  • Sunrise Elementary School, Albany, Oregon
  • University Park Elementary School, Denver, Colorado
  • Valley View Elementary, Great Falls, Montana
 
Bike to School Day is a national event that gives communities across the country the opportunity to join together in bicycling to school on the same day. The event, an exciting celebration for both those new to the experience and those who have been two-wheeling to school for years, is part of the movement for year-round safe routes to school, and encourages bicycling to school as a healthy way for kids and families to make their school commute.
 
National Bike to School Day adds to the excitement surrounding National Bike Month, led by the League of American Bicyclists each May. Based on the Walk to School Day model, Bike to School Day builds off the 16 years of success of International Walk to School Day.
 
For more information on bike and walk to school activities in the United States, visit www.walkbiketoschool.org.