Pump up those tires! Tomorrow (May 4) is National Bike to School Day. Already more than 2,100 schools in 47 states have registered for bike-friendly events scheduled.
“Last year we had more than 3,200 students who reported riding to school on bike to school day,” says Shannon Koller, senior director of education at Washington state-based Cascade Bicycle Club (CBC), the nation’s largest statewide bicycle organization. Koller says 2016 will be even bigger.
“We are poised to easily exceed those numbers this year!” she says. “Sixteen new school sites are participating this year just in King and Snohomish Counties alone.”
The biking fun isn't just for tomorrow; all of May is official National Bike Month or, as Washington state calls it in classic left-coast fashion, Bike Everywhere Month. To celebrate, CBC and nonprofit Washington Bikes have scheduled hundreds of activities including bike-friendly fun at schools around Puget Sound.
On May 4, upon arriving at school hundreds of students will collect their first “spoke card” from CBC (you know, the kind you put in the spokes of your wheel to make a really cool sound). Throughout the month of May, kids who ride up to 360 minutes will receive a second spoke card. Anyone who rides more than that receives a third card.
Schools can also register for the month-long Bike to School Challenge, which rewards elementary, middle and high school students who track their bicycle trips throughout the month of May. (Of course, your child’s school doesn’t have to be registered for your child to ride tomorrow or to log miles on their own log book.)
If your school isn’t on this year’s list, never fear. CBC plans to expand their reach for next school year, bringing bikes to PE classes for three weeks of bike-based fun to all elementary and middle schools in Seattle Public Schools.
“Kids will work really hard to get even the smallest of prizes; they want to be part of something bigger than their individual efforts,” says Koller. “They’re joining a national of kids who are practicing an active and healthy transportation option that’s about living more gently on our planet.”
Not to mention there's more and more research that shows active kids do better in school. Children who walk or bike to school have better concentration, says University of Toronto professor Ron Buliung, citing a study from Denmark.
“Being active prior to the start of their school day activates areas of their brains that puts them in this space where they are awake and ready to work,” adds Koller. “There are real academic benefits to biking to school.”
At its hub, Bike Everywhere Month is about community. Koller says when you see someone riding a bike when you are riding, there’s an assumption that you share similar values. That engagement is missing when you ride in a car.
Get in on the fun all month long with a few Bike Everywhere activities:
- Free group rides happen daily. See the CBC calendar for details.
- All month long, She Bikes Cascade will host Tuesday night social rides geared toward female riders.
- Celebrate the role of cycling in female emancipation with the global celebration CycloFemme. This year’s event happens to be Mother’s Day (May 8).
- Register your students for the Bike Everywhere Challenge: elementary students here, middle and high school students here. Prizes include two new bike and all the accompanying gear you could hope for. The middle and high school students with the most trips logged during the month will also win two passes to any 2016 CBC event.