In anticipation of Bike to Work Day next Friday, the League of American Bicyclists, the advocacy group behind National Bike Month here in the U.S. has designated today, May 9, as Bike to School Day.
Encouraging kids to ride to school is a great way to expose them to transportation cycling at a young age. And if they grow up thinking that it’s normal to ride a bike to get somewhere, they will value things like complete streets and bike infrastructure. And if it matters to the future voters, it will also have to matter to future politicians.
Riding to school is also a great way for kids to get some exercise, before school even starts. Childhood obesity is a major problem in the U.S., and a Canadian study recently found that parents vastly overestimate the amount of physical activity their kids get on a daily basis. Riding to your child’s school is an activity you can do together, and it’s also a good opportunity for you to get some exercise. And the time you spend together on your bikes will likely be a lot more enjoyable than sitting in the drop-off line of cars in front of the school.
It can also be a neighbourhood activity – some communities form bike trains, where all the kids on a street will ride together with a couple of adults. That way, if you can’t ride with your kids, they will still be riding in a supervised group – which is important for safety, especially if the ride is on the longer side or crosses any major roadways.
If your child’s school doesn’t have proper bike racks, Bike to School Day is also an excellent opportunity to bring this to the attention of school officials. If the proper facilities (this means not just bike lanes/paths, but bike racks as well) are not in place, it makes it that much more difficult for kids to ride their bikes to school.
And while Bike to School Day is a great event, try to see if you can make it a more than a once annual ride. You might not be able to do it every day, but some schools, based on the success of Bike to School Day, have taken it upon themselves to organize weekly or monthly ride days.
Are you riding to school with your kids today? Do you ride with your kids every day? What do you think the advantages and challenges of riding with kids are vs. driving them in the car?