Thornton Creek Bike Trains Take Off!

Wow! Today was incredible. I was shocked and amazed by how many people we had out on our first day of Thornton Creek Bike Trains! We counted 35 kid’s bikes at the school, and a few others came in on xtracycles and tandems. Holy cow! I was expecting about 8 people, and hoping for 10, this number really blows me away. Even the Bryant folks who came (thank you so much for your support, Bryant parents) were impressed by Thornton Creek’s numbers! Hopefully we will pick up even more steam and see more and more children riding! Thank you all SO much for riding and supporting this project–it is so great to see a line of kids riding to school!

Today was meant as a sort of test-ride, to iron out the details, and I am indeed seeing some places for improvement. Stay tuned for an organizational google doc that will allow parents to collaborate as chaperons, as well as for some updated suggestions about bike train safety.

Photos to come!

Bike to School Month: Tracking Trips (without paper)

Track your Trips!Since Bryant began participating  in Bike to School Month in 2007, we found that one of the most cumbersome (and least fun) tasks during Bike to School Month was keeping track of the kids’ bike trips. Although Cascade has an electronic tracking system for middle and high school students, they still use paper forms to track trips for elementary schools.

The first couple of years we used Cascade’s Bike to School Calendar. This turned out to be more work than we thought necessary. Just to get the paper form out to the 500+ kids at Bryant entailed downloading the form, printing/copying one for each student and manually stuffing each form into the Weekly newsletter that went home to families. At the end of the month we did it all in reverse – collecting forms from teachers, tallying the results manually and sending them to Cascade.

Whew, that makes me tired just thinking about it. Read more of this post

The Kickoff Event — Ideas from Bike to Bryant

One idea we’ve used year after year at Bryant is the “kickoff event.” Typically we hold it in late April or early May, around the beginning of Bike to School month. It really seems to help focus the Bryant community on biking to school and it serves to energize and prepare kids and their parents for a month-long commitment.

We try to make the kickoff both fun and useful for folks. We’ve included different components over the years, but usually we’ve had some combination of the following:

–Bike tuning – volunteers give bikes a once over and safety check, pump up tires, lube chains, adjust brakes, and get bikes ready for spring

–Some friendly competition, slow bike races, or this year probably timed laps around our track

–Helmet fitting and other safety preparations

–Information on bike month, advice on routes, signing up to participate in the official bike to school month tracking

–Fun prizes, a bike decorating station and supplies, and of course yummy treats

This year we’ve tried to maintain some Bike to Bryant excitement all year long, even throughout the dark and rainy months. Monthly donut rides, some dress-up and bike decorations, a holiday bike event, etc. But even so, we are looking forward to kicking off Bike to School month and really ramping up the biking again this May. Bryant’s kickoff event this year is this coming Friday, April 27.  We’ll hold it after school on the playground.

We’ll let you know how it goes! Or better yet, stop by and say hi and check it out for yourself!

UPDATE

The April 27 kickoff was a huge success! About 75 kids rode to school that morning, so there was an excited crowd of kids ready after school. More bikes showed up towards the end of the day as parents brought bikes for some of the new riders to get tuned up and practice skills.

We had six volunteer mechanics, and they were busy for nearly two hours! Lots of lubing chains, brake adjustments, air in tires, adjusting seats, safety checks, and a few larger repairs.

We had slow bike races, a raffle, bike decorations, and a couple of new events for 2012:

  • A time trial (one lap around Bryant’s paved track around its field) with 75 times being recorded… the winning time was 20 seconds! Some of our older students and alumni (now middle schoolers) volunteered to run this!
  • The “newspaper toss,” where kids got a messenger bag with several rolled up papers and circled a large basket trying to toss the paper in, quite a challenge and reminiscent of some of the adults’ glory days.

We also had an information station to orient folks to biking to school, good routes, places to get or exchange bikes, and how to sign up for Bike to School month tracking.

All in all, a great way to kick off the spring biking season, and get kids and parents prepared and excited for Bike to School Month.

A Great Kickoff Meeting for Walk.Bike.Schools!

First Walk.Bike.Schools Meeting

Frankly, we’re feeling pretty jazzed here at Walk.Bike.Schools! headquarters. When we started planning this “project,” we weren’t sure if we’d have 5, 10, or 20 of you who’d make the time to come a meeting. In fact, we had 35 or so parents, plus another 5 or so folks otherwise connected with the walk-and-bike-to-school movement in at least 14 schools.  All on a record-busy night for bike and ped meetings. Wow!

We experienced inspirational sharing of insights and ideas from participants. Some real winners included:

  • Make it fun for kids and they can motivate their parents!
  • Let’s develop Buddy Schools to match up existing programs to mentor new programs
  • Target preschools for early bike and walk involvement. That way kids and parents will already be converts when they hit elementary school
  • and many more!

Read more of this post

Timed Thornton Creek Routes

The finalized routes are here! The south route has been modified very slightly to minimize arterial crossings. The times refer to the times the bike train is expected to leave that location. Cyclists can hop on the train at any point during its route, using the times as guidelines to inform arrival. If you are planning to participate in these bike trains (which you are, of course) please read the rules of bike trains before the first train.

Thornton Creek Elementary School North Route

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Thornton Creek Elementary School South Route


To join the Thornton Creek Bike Train Google Group, contact Maya at maya29@uw.edu.

Bike Train Rules

If you are considering joining a train at Thornton Creek or Wedgwood, or if you are pondering organizing something similar in your own locale, please take a few minutes to get acquainted with the rules of Thornton Creek and Wedgwood bike trains.

Rules–hard and fast:

  1. Children who ride their own cycles must be comfortable and competeImagent on the bike.
  2. ALL attendees MUST wear helmets!
  3. Every group must maintain two adults in front and one in back at all times.
  4. (At least for now) All children must be represented by an adult.
  5. Group rides must stop at all stop signs and lights and wait for parents to signal that it is safe to cross.

General Guidelines:

  1. While bicycle theft is lame, and stealing childrens’ bikes is lame and petty, it is a good idea to come equipped with a lock, and to not leave bikes on racks overnight.
  2. Be aware of your tire pressure/brake adjustments to be a safe and efficient cyclist.
  3. To keep a buffer between kids and cars, I suggest that two adults remain on the outside edge of the bike train at all times.

Reminder: Walk and Bike to School Meeting This Thursday

Calling all parents and community members interested in getting more Seattle kids walking and biking to school!

Whether you’re an experienced safe routes to school organizer, or a parent who is thinking of starting a program at your local school, come join us to talk about walk and bike programs throughout the city. This will be a great opportunity to share ideas about what has worked to get more kids walking and biking.

Meeting details:

Thursday April 12

7:00 – 8:30 pm

Bryant Elementary School

3311 NE 60th Street

Got a great success story to share? Come and tell other parents and schools about it.

Want to know how to get a program started? Come hear from other folks who have created programs at their local schools.

The agenda will include plenty of time for sharing stories and ideas, plus discussion of how our schools can stay better connected to create a stronger city-wide network.

We hope to have a great turnout of parents, faculty, and other folks from Seattle’s schools. Some of our key partners in walk and bike programs including Feet First, SDOT, and Cascade will be on hand as well. See you Thursday night!