Build Your Own Bike Train

It has been nearly a month since the last NE Seattle Bike Train, and I have yet to post any sort of conclusion to this project. Sorry! Well, here it is…albeit a bit late.

The Thornton Creek Bike Train and Wedgwood group rides were more successful than I could have hoped for. While at Wedgwood we often had a relatively small turnout, we saw a three fold increase in ridership from the first week to the second, and the smiling faces were enough to call this project a success. At Thornton Creek we had a steady rate of about 30 kids riding in each Bike Train, with 40 kids on Bike to School Day. Each train saw new faces, from back-pedal break kindergarteners to 5th graders with their multi-speed shiny little racing bikes. These trains were indescribably rewarding. Each train that I lead brought a smile to my face that was impossible to suppress throughout the entire 1.5 mile ride.

The Thornton Creek Bike Trains have become a popular topic of conversation among the Seattle bike-to-school folks, so I thought it may be beneficial to post something of a DIY Bike Trains recipe. I will include a basic step-by-step process, however if you have further questions feel free to contact me!

  1. Create your community.
    1. Post an announcement about your project in the newsletter, email your class parents, talk to your kids. Request that anyone interested in partaking email you.
    2. Compile an email list and maintain contact with those who are interested.
  2. Examine a directory, or general student whereabouts.
    1. Where are kids concentrated?
    2. How can you create direct but useful routes?
  3. Check out a map:
    1. Where are the arterials? Residential streets?
  4. Hop on your bike:
    1. Where are the hills? Flat roads? What feels safest? Least safe?
  5. Compile this information.
    1. Create a few simple, preliminary routes that account for location of kids, topography, and traffic.
  6. Engage your community!
    1. Organize a meeting with other interested parents and staff. Finesse your routes, discuss other concerns.
    2. Determine bike train dates.
  7. Time your routes.
    1. Bike each route at least twice, stopping every 5-10 blocks in the same locations to check the time. (Hint: bike very slowly—imagine you are riding a tiny, single-speed, kid’s bike).
  8. Publish your routes and dates
    1. Create a blog, email template or poster (or all three). Get the word out, include links and dates in the newsletter.
  9. Find your leaders, arrive early, and bike the routes!
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Wedgwood Group Ride Update

Two Wedgwood group rides have occurred so far, and the trend is really inspiring! We had four children on our first ride (which, while a small turnout, is still terrific!), however we more than tripled our numbers during our second ride: 13 kids showed up with their families. Wow!

This Friday is Bike to School Day, and I can’t wait to see our numbers triple again! We will be meeting at Top Pot doughnuts at 8:00am, and leaving at 8:30 for school. We will also be joined by the Bryant Elementary bike to school crowd, and while I wouldn’t be surprised to see half of Bryant at Top Pot, I think Wedgwood may just surprise us all with the turnout!

If you are a Wedgwood parent or student, track your trips this month to be eligible for prizes and to challenge yourself to get on that bike everyday!

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.

RIde to Wedgwood!

Participate in bike-to-school month! This May, Wedgwood Elementary School will be joining forces with Bryant at Top Pot Doughnuts before taking to the streets and parading off to school. Every Friday this May, Wedgwood and Bryant riders will meet at Top Pot at 8:00am for doughnuts (and coffee for parents), Wedgwood cyclists will leave at 8:20, Bryant cyclists will leave at 8:30. See below for route information.Image

Wedgwood/Bryant Combined Doughnut Meet-up+Ride

Doughnuts from Top Pot for bike to school riders

Meet up with kid and parent riders from NE sister elementary schools Bryant and Wedgwood. Combined meet-ups are planned during the month of May.

Meet at Top Pot Doughnuts at 8:00 for a doughnut (and coffee for parents) before an in-street ride/parade to the respective schools.

NOTE: This shouldn’t need to be said, but just in case: All children should be comfortable riding in a crowd of other kids, (wobble -free steering and solid braking ability required!), and be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the doughnut event AND ride. Volunteers will help keep the crowd together and assist at crossings, but Parents are responsible for judging the ability of their children and are ultimately responsible for their child’s safe arrival at school. Participation in the event should be fun time, but is solely at your own risk.