Walk.Bike.Schools Rolls Into Summer!

Seattle walk and bike to school organizers got together earlier this week and created some end-of-the-school year momentum. We started with a Bike to School Month recap, and also spent some time thinking ahead to the Fall and the 2012-13 school year.

It was a record Bike to School Month here in Seattle, with literally thousands of students participating. There were 3100 elementary age kids who rode on Bike to School Day alone! Cascade staff provided a nice rundown of some of the key numbers for those who are statistically minded. Congratulations to Laurelhurst, Eckstein, and Garfield for winning the inaugural “Golden Pedal” awards for getting the most kids riding this past month at the elementary, middle, and high school levels respectively.
While the statistics are compelling, so are the stories. A couple of highlights:
  • Over 70 Ballard High students  rode on Bike to School Day, plus the core group at Ballard ran a bike donation drive for BikeWorks, and helped as volunteers at West Woodland’s Bike Rodeo too!
  • Loyal Heights Elementary had well over 100 kids riding in the school’s first real year with a program. They are considering starting a bike club at the school next Fall to maintain the momentum! (Ballard overall is a hotbed for bike to school programs; Adams Elementary and Salmon Bay K-8 had really successful years too.)
  • The Thornton Creek bike trains — the first in Seattle — were a huge success, with as many as 35 kids participating, and Wedgwood Elementary had a enthusiastic and growing core group riding throughout May as well.
  • Several other new programs had good participation in their first year, and laid the groundwork for future success. Overall more schools participated in Bike to School Month than ever before. Hearing about schools that are just beginning programs is always inspiring. It takes some work, but with persistence these programs can’t help but grow.
We also heard from Caitlin from Feet First, who talked about the IWalk program and International Walk to School Month in October. There was a lot of interest in focusing in the Fall on promoting walking to school. Caitlin provided an opportunity to sign up for the IWalk mailing list, and Feet First also plans to share info through the walkbikeschools Google Group as well.
Seth from Bicycle Alliance of Washington and the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board also reminded us of the Safe Routes to School Summer Institutes, an upcoming opportunity for folks interested in getting some good training on helping kids walk and bike to school safely:
This August training session is free, and looks to be an excellent way to learn the basics and best practices of starting up and running a Safe Routes to School Program.
As usual, there was some great energy and ideas, and it was just really nice to meet and talk with other folks who are trying to create culture change at their schools. One interesting idea that emerged was to create a “starter kit” — basically an information package to give step by step tips to getting a new program started at a school. Many of us with longer standing programs recall their beginnings, when we had a small handful of families biking and/or walking. It can seem a little daunting when you’re first starting up, especially if you’re a new parent at the school as well. Some info to share techniques for those early stages could be really useful.
Attendees agreed that Walk.Bike.Schools will meet again in the late summer or early fall to gear up for the 2012-13 school year. Look for this next meeting to be hosted by another school in a different part of the city.
It was great to maintain the momentum of these last few months, and look forward to more excitement to come! Thanks to all who could attend!
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