West Woodland Bike Rodeo Rides Again!

A bike rodeo is a safe and supportive place to get the youngest riders started

A bike rodeo is a safe and supportive place to get even the youngest riders started

guest post by Polly Freeman

Beating the odds on the weather, 65 cyclists and their families enjoyed an afternoon of bike riding at the West Woodland bike rodeo Sunday, April 28. Each cyclist got a helmet fit check before testing their skills at six stations and snacking on fruit and breadsticks. The bike safety check area was bustling with volunteers pumping tires, checking brakes and more. Fourteen cyclists also took home new low-cost helmets, custom-fitted by our volunteers, thanks to the Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation. A dozen riders ventured out on two “urban” rides supported by Cascade Bike Club staff.

Everyone who completed the stations earned their choice of cool stickers, water bottles and patch kits courtesy of Gregg’s Cycles and Free Range Cycles. All riders were also entered in a drawing for NiteIze bike lights.

Thank you so much to our 20 dedicated parent volunteers, veterans and newbies alike, who make the bike rodeo possible – and fun! We rely on West Woodlan staff support and also thank our sponsors and donors, especially Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation, Gregg’s Cycles, Free Range Cycles, Great Harvest and Ballard Market.

Editors note: Reports like this are trickling in as schools around Seattle kick off Bike to School Month this year. Bike rodeos and other kickoff event were held at several schools last week, with more today and next week too. West Woodland is experienced at this, and Polly is too (her fifth bike rodeo!). They’ve worked out the bugs, and hopefully some of their approaches will be useful to others.

West Woodland Bike Rodeo Rider

Advertisements

Bike to School Month is Almost Here!

Sacajawea bikersReady for Bike to School Month? May 1st is right around the corner.

If you’re not fully prepared, don’t panic. Folks at other schools are still hatching their plans too. May sneaks up on us every year, and this year is no different.

And this year Bike to School Day is May 8th — earlier in the month than usual. So now is prime time for finalizing plans to get more kids biking at your school this spring.

Maybe you want to put together a month-long program. Or perhaps a one-day activity on Bike to School Day. Or maybe you’re thinking of once-a-week activities — maybe Bike to School Fridays with something planned each week.

Any of these approaches are great, and in fact many established programs started small. Even a modest Bike to School Day event can begin to create a bike culture at your school.

The primary purpose of walk.bike.schools is to share information among schools — tips and techniques, including what has worked at other schools. So if you’re planning some bike to school activities for May and beyond, hopefully the following links to some past posts will be useful.

And if getting kids walking is more your thing, that’s cool too. May is also an awesome time to walk to school!

Without further ado, here are links to some posts that focus on various aspects of putting together a bike or walk to school day, month, or longer term program:

The Big Picture

Some specific ideas

Highlights from a few schools

And some walk to school ideas

Hope this is helpful as you gear up for May and the rest of the spring. Let us know how it goes!

Let's fill the bike racks at every Seattle school this May!

Let’s fill the bike racks at every Seattle school this May!

Plan now for the coming Spring!

It’s still a little wintry out, for Seattle anyway. But the days are getting longer and spring is right around the corner. For many of us, late winter is the season for bike swaps, chilly-hilly rides, and final laps to the ski hill. It’s also an excellent time for spring bike to school planning.

Seattle’s “official” Bike to School Month is in May, coinciding with Bike to Work Month. And the word on the street is that Bike to School Day this year is May 8, so mark your calendars.

May is still a couple months off, but we’ve found that getting an early start is essential. Maybe this means holding a parent meeting in March. Or hosting a kick-off event or bike rodeo in April. Or just coming up with a strategy for starting or growing a walk and bike culture at your school this coming spring.

Planning for a successful event — or better yet for a successful month or longer-term program — requires thinking ahead. Some ways to get started:

  • Put together a team. Find some like-minded parents and staff or administrators to work with.
  • Come up with some fun and creative events, anything from a Bike to School Day blitz to a month-long set of activities. Check out previous blog posts here to get some ideas.
  • Come up with a strategy for communication and advertising.
  • Source some donations or discounts from local businesses. Bakeries and bike stores are especially helpful to have on board!
  • Get your administration and PTSA involved.
  • Talk it up with other parents.

Once you’ve established a plan and a team and gotten some resources together, you’re on your way.

Need some more ideas about how to get going? Check out our Getting Started post from last year. And look forward to a walk.bike.schools meeting or two in the next few months to compare notes among schools as we collectively launch springtime programs.

There’s no better time than now to begin gearing up for a springtime of biking to school!

You can even get the kids involved in bike planning. Here some middle schoolers envision better parking.

Consider getting the students involved in bike to school planning! Here some middle schoolers envision bike parking improvements.

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!

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