If the response from students at École Robb Road Elementary School is any indication, Bike to School Week was an unmitigated success.
The program, which ran in conjunction with Bike To Work Week, encouraged students and parents to leave the vehicles behind and start the day by being active.
“Monday we had 135 bikes on the racks; Tuesday we had 158 and then Wednesday we had a whopping 185,” said Laura Lan, regional educator, CyclingBC iRide For BC Schools Program, who helped organize Robb Road’s participation.
Friday there were 175 bikes on the racks.
“And that doesn’t even count the kids who were walking, or scootering, so that’s great,” said Lan.
Robb Road turned the week into much more than a simple bike ride to school. There was a passport, where participants could track their mileage. There was an obstacle course to test their skill at weaving through gates, and over rises. And there was even a challenge with other schools in the area. Huband Park Elementary and École Puntledge Park Elementary also had activities for Bike to School Week.
“We have had a lot of different things that have worked as different motivators for different kids,” said Lan. “Some kids are really making an effort to get out here (early enough) to get the muffins. The passport and interactive travel map has been really popular. We collect the passports today and there will be draw prizes.”
The total mileage accumulated by the students over the four days was 2,286 km.
“I am not certain how that compares to other schools although seeing as not many other schools had such a large organized effort to promote Bike to School Week as Ecole Robb Road, I would guess that we accumulated more miles, likely many more,” said Lan.
The best part of the week, from Lan’s perspective, was the positive feedback she received from many of the parents.
“A lot of families have said that this week has provided them with the opportunity to see that it’s not that hard, that they can do it,” she said.
“I had a lot of parents say that they were surprised at how easy it was to get the kids into it – that there was never an issue in getting ‘little Johnny’ pushed out the door. So there was some real momentum gained this week and we are going to try to keep that going.”
The single bike rack that, until this week, was sufficient for the bikes used by students, was heaving all week long. The Comox Valley Cycling Coalition came to the rescue, supplying Robb Road with an additional four racks for the added demand.
“They have said they will leave them there for as long as we need them, so it would be nice if those became permanent,” said Lan.
“The whole idea of the program is to not only get kids active again, but the more kids there are riding bikes to school, the less (motorized) traffic there is in school zones. That benefits everyone. Fewer emissions, fewer traffic snarls, and less of a chance of a serious incident, involving a car and a child.”
Bike to School Week running at the same time as Bike to Work Week is by design.
“What we kind of hope for is that parents will take part in the initiative by pedalling with the kids to school, then continuing to work,” said Lan. “I know a lot of families did that this week. If they continue to do that on a regular basis, well, that’s what this is all about.”