National Bike to School Day
National Bike to School Day is a fun and interactive way to promote biking and walking to school safely. Continuing the success of International Walk to School Day, a desire focusing on bicycling to school became a reality when on May 9, 2012 the first National Bike to School Day was held, in coordination with the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Month.
Safe Routes to School staff will be conducting various Bike to School Day events including safety instruction with practical application of riding experiences to school. It is our goal to help increase physical activity while also educating students on the importance of safety. If you choose to participate here are a few guidelines to help you get started:
- Planning this event can be simple or complex. Start small or start big. The key is to find a good fit for your school and community. You first need to obtain the school principal’s approval.
- Register your event at www.walkbiketoschool.org.
- Plan a meeting spot and the route. Check with the SRO if there are any safety issues around the school.
- Distribute permission forms, so you can get an estimate of how many bikers/walkers will be participating. Students should be instructed to bring their own helmet if they want to participate and if they need one this should be known prior to event to make sure enough helmets are ready for students as they arrive.
- Promote your event. Create banners and fliers. Send announcements home via email and newsletters. Invite parents, teachers, school administrators, local businesses, law enforcement and public officials to join your event. Maybe even a local celebrity or mascot!
- Contact local businesses to see if they are willing donate refreshments or incentives.
Day of the Event
- Arrive at the meeting location 30 minute early.
- Have a designated spokesperson talk to the media.
- Give a brief overview of the event and why the day is special. Review any ground rules which depend on the event but might include things like staying on the sidewalk or obeying law enforcement officer instructions.
- Congratulate walkers and bicyclists for coming out and participating.
- Thank dignitaries, sponsors and volunteers in a public announcement.
- Record the number of participants.
- Take lots of photos and video.
Some Tips to Make this a Safe Event
- Is there enough room to ride? You want to make the distance from your meeting place to the school enjoyable. Not too short, but not too long.
- Let the students enjoy the donated snacks and drinks, hand out informational/educational materials before they begin to ride. Helmet and bike check would be a great idea before they take off.
- Arrange bikers into groups of 5-7 riders with an adult taking the lead. Wait 2-4 minutes before sending another group making sure each biker is riding single file. Perhaps have volunteers set up along the route planned to the school. If an accident were to happen there would be an adult volunteer there to aid that student.
- If there are students who do not have a bike and still want to participate, I would recommend having them at the end of the group. Also keep in mind if a child has training wheels or is not the most skilled rider, you would want to put the more advanced or older students in the first few groups to keep the flow continual.
- I would recommend a Police Officer to lead the group on bikes and a fire truck or EMS to bring up the rear if possible. Notify crossing guards and PD. Extra hands to help control traffic is best.
This event requires more planning than the walk to school day because there may be lots of children who are eager to ride and a greater chance for potential accidents. Having a well set plan in place is best for making sure your event is as smooth as possible.
For a list of participating schools, please contact a community educator in your county.