Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Monday Blues on Wednesday: Bike to School Day Let Down...

4 - 7 - 7 - 4
What do those numbers mean, and where were the bikes?

a great emptiness

Where were the bikes, indeed! They certainly were not at the local elementary schools. Four at Chaparral, six at Sycamore plus one out front, seven at Mountain View, four at Condit. Those were all the bikes I noticed, at a few schools, as I rode a zig-zag route across town this morning. In case most of y'all missed it (and this may have been part of the problem) today was National Bike to School Day - you sure couldn't tell by looking at the local schools though. For a municipality that (and rightly so) touts its bike friendliness, the showing was rather disappointing, if not downright disgraceful. The Claremont Safe Routes to School organization, which has done a terrific job of teaching safe and responsible riding at the schools over the past couple years, might have been a natural place to promote the day. But, other than it being noted on their calendar, I saw no additional promotion. How about school websites? Nope, nothing there either. All this lack of information, this great amount of non-promotion, begs the question - would it have made any difference? I have seen the Chaparral racks filled beyond capacity, and the Sycamore racks nearly so on various given days in the past, so I know kids will ride if offered the chance. In general I don't really much like these arbitrary "do-something" days. Even if promoted well in advance, they don't really provide accurate reflections. What they do well, though, is inspire. I can just hear a kid, one who has gone through the SRTS program, feels like he can ride, coming home from school and proudly proclaiming, "I did it mom!", setting the stage for a lifetime of self-sufficient travel, healthful living, and bolstering feelings of self-worth and accomplishment.

Not all was this grim though; there was one promising note, at the middle school - El Roble -which I have noted previously, has a long history of encouraging students to commute by bike. This has been accomplished through infrastructure improvements, activities (bike club, annual Bike Marathon), and the proactive reinforcement of staff. As a result, and expected, the El Roble secure bike parking lot was full. (Though I didn't see them myself I was, later in the day, informed that the high school racks were full as well.) It would be nice to see some of that enthusiasm make its way to other schools. Oh well, no one needs a specially designated day to ride, any one will suffice, any day is a good day to ride.

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