Fall 2013 Walk and Bike to School Info Session

Parents, teachers, staff, and students across Seattle are beginning another school year. As the instruction and extracurricular activities begin, parents are also planning the school commutes that take tens of thousands of Seattle kids from where they live to where they learn. So It’s a great time to get the creative juices flowing and share ideas for helping more of our kids choose active and sustainable transportation for this coming year.

Come meet with other walk and bike to school organizers and advocates next Tuesday and get things rolling for another school year.

Fall 2013 Info Sharing Session

Tuesday, September 10, from 6:00 to 7:45 p.m.
Ballard branch, Seattle Public Library, 5614 22nd Ave NW

Are you a Safe Routes to School organizer at your local school? A parent interested in starting a program? A community member interested in what the buzz is about and maybe wanting to lend a hand? This meeting is for you.

Next Tuesday evening will be an opportunity to share updates, ideas, and plans for ramping up walking and biking this year.

The agenda will include:

  • “Ballard Bikes” multi-school walk and bike to school plans
  • Creative ideas from individual schools to get more kids walking and biking (share yours with others!)
  • A report from Feet First on October Walk to School Month
  • A report from SDOT on upcoming Safe Routes to School mini-grant opportunities
  • The latest on the School Road Safety Task Force

This event is open to everyone in the community who is interested in increasing walking and biking to Seattle schools. Hope you can join us and please spread the word.

Their are good options for getting to the Ballard library by bike, on foot, or on public transportation. There is bike parking out front and the library is near several bus routes. If you drive, you can park for free in the garage underneath.

Seattle has seen continuing growth in the number of schools promoting active transportation, and in the number of families choosing to commute to school under their own power. Let’s work together to maintain the momentum in 2013-14!

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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

“Walktober” at Laurelhurst

Laurelhurst Elementary has one of the largest and longest-running walk and bike to school programs in Seattle. Parent volunteers have been at this for a long time, and have a good sense for what it takes to create excitement and get more kids to school under their own power. Once again, they have started right at the beginning of the school year.

The whole school took a walk…
together with Charlie the Chicken!

Laurelhurst has a tradition of celebrating “Walktober,” a month-long campaign they run in conjunction with International Walk to School Month. Organizers have found that getting families started thinking about transportation early in the year can help them “get off on the right foot” and develop good habits that can last throughout the year and beyond.

Laurelhurst’s Walktober program helps families establish a habit of walking, biking, scootering, or taking the bus to school early in the school year.  The program has not only helped develop sustainable habits, but also increased kids’ awareness of the importance of daily activity.

Laurelhurst typically begins the month with a kickoff event. This year the event included an assembly followed by an all-school walk around the school grounds, with the kindergarten classes leading the way. This is the first time they’ve started the month with an all-school event like this, and it was a huge success. What better way to educate kids about the fun of getting around under your own power than a walk with hundreds of friends and classmates?

Kicking things off with an assembly

The Walktober assembly included an entertaining and informative skit with “Charlie the Chicken” that was educational and well received by the students and staff. It turns out that Charlie is pretty funny. He can also ride a bike, a scooter, and even a unicycle. And reportedly he can dance too.

Not surprisingly, a large chicken with all those tricks plus a little knowledge about the benefits of walking and biking to school ends up being quite a hit with the kids and their parents. In fact, organizers heard from many parents after the assembly that their child came home from school and said, “We have to do Walktober!” Generating enthusiasm and a culture where the kids are pushing the parents to let them walk or bike is such a key to a successful program.

For the kickoff event, Laurelhurst had strong support from Feet First, and the children all received a tracking calendar and a healthy snack of fresh organic apples donated to the school from Metropolitan Market.

The rest of the month included more walk to school events such as meet-ups at local bakeries to walk to school as a group, culminating in an upcoming final celebration this Friday. The kids have been tracking their trips and looking forward to some recognition and prizes. There’s nothing like a little good-old-fashioned competition to get more kids walking. No word yet on how many kids have participated this year, but in the past they’ve had as many as 150 to 190 students join the fun! (Quick update — over 160 kids participated this year!)

Laurelhurst has had a fantastic walk and bike to school program for many years, so it’s fun to hear how it continues to grow and thrive! Way to go Laurelhurst!

Mmmm, yummy healthy treats.

2012-13 Kickoff Planning Meeting

Walk.bike.schools is starting early this year to plan for another great school year of walking and biking. The weather has been perfect for walking and biking, and next month is International Walk Month. So what better time than now to hatch a plan at your school to support kids and families in getting to school under their own power!

Come to next Tuesday’s walk.bike.schools planning meeting to share tips and techniques to get more Seattle kids walking and biking!

Meeting details are:

Tuesday, Sept 18
6:30 to 8:00 p.m
Loyal Heights Elementary School in Ballard
2511 NW 80th St.

Folks can enter the school at the entrance nearest 80th and 26th Ave NW (the northwest corner of the school). We’ll meet in the cafeteria, and will have someone stationed at the entrance to direct you to the cafeteria.

For those who choose to bike to the meeting, one of the gates will be open (on the west side of the school grounds) to provide access to the school’s bike racks, which are near the playground.

The agenda is still being firmed up, but we will be hearing a bit about IWalk and walk to school programs in general. As well as some inspiring stories from schools around our city who are working to get more kids walking and biking. The goal of the meeting is to share tangible ideas that can be put into practice at our schools. If you have specific ideas or want to participate and share some info about what you’re doing at your school, let me know!

As always, these meetings are intended for any and all parents, staff, and anyone else with an interest in promoting walking and biking to Seattle schools. Spread the word to other folks you know who share this interest.

Thanks in advance to Loyal Heights for hosting. We’re looking forward to getting together in the heart of Ballard, where there is a huge amount of energy around walk and bike programs.

Let’s continue to grow this movement of kid-powered commuting!

Hope to see you next Tuesday!!

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Kicking Off Another School Year

Happy back to school week!

For most of our Seattle schools, this is the first week back in action. Some others got a head start and began the 2012-13 school year last week. Here in NE Seattle, high school students started Tuesday, but for middle and elementary school kids, today is “opening day!”

It’s a great time to begin encouraging walking and biking to school. The weather is great, the long-range forecast looks excellent, and families and students are full of enthusiasm. October is International Walk to School Month and an opportunity to participate in IWalk and other walk to school programs. These first months of the school year are an excellent time for biking as well, so get creative and encourage families to do either.

Walk.bike.schools is planning a Fall kickoff meeting, so look here for details in the near future. We are currently thinking of meeting later this month to compare notes, share tips, and build on each others’ creative energy for getting Seattle’s kids walking and biking. As always, anyone interested in getting Seattle kids walking and biking is welcome to come and participate.

In the meantime, if you’re kicking off a walk or bike program at your school and have some ideas to share, let us know.

Happy back to school week!!

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!


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!

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