Students Gear Up for Bike to School Day Around the North State

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Kids love riding bicycles. Maybe it’s because it’s an outdoor activity, or it’s something they can do with their friends. Maybe it’s because they can actually get somewhere under their own power. Or maybe it’s because a bicycle is just plain fun!

This year marks the third annual National Bike to School Day, celebrated on Wednesday, May 7. Last year, 14 schools throughout Shasta County participated. Schools in Chico, Oroville and Mt. Shasta also joined the movement. In 2012, the first year for National Bike to School Day, students showed great enthusiasm, and school as well as rider participation has increased.

[sws_blue_box box_size=”250″]To help make for a smooth ride to school, take some time to plan ahead with these tips:

  • Make sure bikes are in good working order – inflate tires and lube the chain.
  • Inspect helmets for cracks and wear, and make sure the helmet fits snugly.
  • Practice riding the route to school on a weekend. While at school, take some time to let your child practice bicycle skills in a paved open area.
  • Work on hand signals, controlling the bike, and starting and stopping.
  • Go over safety tips with your child, such as making eye contact and communicating with drivers, and obeying traffic laws.
  • Ideally children 10 and older can ride on the road, however, every child matures differently. Take into account your child’s skill and confidence level to see if he or she is ready to ride on the road.

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Students think biking is fun and an enjoyable “new” way to get to school. Of course biking to school isn’t actually new, but to the current generation of students it is. In 2009, 13% of students walked or rode their bikes to school. In 1969, 48% percent of students walked or rode a bike to school. The change is largely due to distance, but also safety. Speed limits are higher, roadways are larger, and there are more motor vehicles using the roads. In some cases 25% of morning commute traffic is just getting kids to school.

Many schools in Shasta County participate in a “bike train” on Bike to School day, where students and parents meet up at a location near school and ride in as a supervised large group. Last year 150 students started at the Sundial Bridge and rode to Turtle Bay School. To help fuel their ride to school, riders stopped at the Arboretum and grabbed a healthy breakfast snack, compliments of Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Not all students rode in as a group; some students rode from home to school with a parent or friend. 

Abby and Madeline, cousins and 2nd graders at Redding School of the Arts, had a particularly fun, long adventure in 2012. They rode from their home in Keswick to school – a distance of 11 miles – mostly on trails. Both students reported they were “tired.” Madeline added, “but I felt like I accomplished something, and it was more fun than riding in a car.”

The cousins had so much fun they invited their kindergarten siblings to join the next year. The kids rode to school with their dad Lane Carlson and grandpa Bill Carlson. Abby’s sister Anaya reported that she loved going downhill. Abby said, “I like being out in nature and feeling the breeze.”

Biking is a cherished generational pastime in the Carlson family. “We have enjoyed watching our kids progress from being pulled in a trailer when they were babies to being pulled along on Trail-a-Bikes to powering their own bicycles. We enjoy the occasional family weekend rides, sometimes with specific destinations in mind: playgrounds, a park, the aquatic center, etc. Some of our favorite family vacations are when we can park the car for our entire stay, and use bicycles as our primary source of transportation,” stated Lane Carlson. The kids were able to prepare for Bike to School day simply by riding often to fun destinations.

This year try carving out extra time the morning of Wednesday, May 7, to ride with your child to school. Whether from home or meeting up with a group, it’s guaranteed to be a fun way to start the day!  

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Ways your family can participate in Bike Month:

Throughout Shasta County:  

Shasta County residents can join the Bike Challenge, taking place May 3-18.
Participants are entered into a drawing each day they ride to work or school, or bike to do errands – family rides to the park, to a friend’s house, or to the farmers market all count. Participants are encouraged to form or join a team at their school or worksite through Healthy Shasta. For more information about Shasta Safe Routes to School Bike to School Day, contact Sara Sundquist at (530) 245-6457 or visit http://www.healthyshasta.org

In Chico:

Beginning May 7, every Wednesday in May, 15-20 schools will participate in “Walk and Roll Wednesdays.” Bike safety presentations and rodeos are offered on a first-come-first-serve basis. Schools will have a meet-and-greet table and will award walkers and rollers with tickets for an end-of-the-month drawing to win a new bike.

A commuter Energizer Station will be set up on Wednesdays from 6:30-9:30 a.m. in the TBar & Fusion Café parking lot at Vallombrosa and Memorial. Refreshments will be available, including at the Here Today Bicycle Coffee Cart. Instructor Rex Stromness of the Yoga Center of Chico will demonstrate yoga postures that promote happy bicycling muscles. The Edible Pedal Bike Kitchen will present healthy breakfast demonstrations.

Other fun Chico events include:

  • SeerSucker Ride, May 4
  • Garden Tour by Bike, May 17
  • Annual Children’s Bike Swap, May 18
  • Bike Night out at the Movies featuring Triplets of Bellville, with contests, displays and popcorn, May 23
  • Adult Bike Swap, May 31
  • Saturdays at the Chico Farmers Market in May: valet parking and interactive displays by the Butte Bicycle Coalition, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Bike Chico! Cyclebration, a historical ride through Chico on June 1, ends at Sierra Nevada Brewery for food, drink and a Fabulously Fun Bike Show and Competition. Visit http://www.bikechico.org for updates and more information.

In Mt. Shasta:

Last year’s participation in Bike to School Day was so successful that students continued riding together on Fridays until the end of the school year. When school began in the fall of 2014, students continued their Friday rides to school. Bike to School Day will also be celebrated Wednesday, May 7. Students attending Mt. Shasta Elementary School and Sisson Middle School can meet at Seven Sons Coffee and Café on Mt. Shasta Boulevard at 7:50 a.m. Bicyclists will ride along Mt. Shasta Boulevard about 1 mile to school. There will be stops along the way at Shasta Base Camp and The Fifth Season for more student riders to join with the group. For more information about Bike to School Day in Mt. Shasta, contact Principal Kale Riccomini at (530) 926-3434.

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Sara Sundquist
About Sara Sundquist

Sara Sundquist is the Shasta Safe Routes to School Coordinator and rides her bike to work almost every day.

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