San Francisco Schools Take Part in Second Annual Bike to School Day

IMG_1894.jpgStudents at Sunset Elementary School student ride their bikes to school today. Photos: Michael Rhodes

Across the city this morning, kids and their parents hopped on bikes to get to school, many of them breaking out of a car commute routine that’s no fun for either party.

At Sunset Elementary School, one of dozens of schools in San Francisco to participate in Bike to School Day today, and one of just five to receive a Safe Routes to School grant, many of the children seemed eager to make it more than a one-time event.

"As I biked, I only thought of the good things that have happened to me," said Audrey, Sunset’s Student Council President. "Let’s just say I felt everything that I wouldn’t feel when I’m stuck in the car."

That line elicited laughter from her classmates and teachers alike, but Dylan Riley, a fourth grade teacher who helped coordinate the program and takes his kids to school by bike regularly, said the Safe Routes to School program and Bike to School Day are helping kids to take bicycling more seriously.

"People are embracing this — they’re realizing cars aren’t the only way to get around," said Riley. "By exposing kids to this, they take it seriously."

Over 120 kids — at least a full third of the school — biked to Sunset Elementary today, doubling the number that participated in Bike to School Day last year. Sunset’s principal Sophie Lee said the Safe Routes to School grant allowed the school to teach all fourth graders about bicycling safety, which helped turn out even more kids this year than last.

"It just really helped the kids to be excited about riding," said Lee.

Fourth graders get three lessons on bicycling safety, including a final hour-long lesson on their bike with YBike program staff and Riley. For some students, that hour is spent learning the basics of riding, while more advanced riders get training on how to deal with more complex situations on the road.

IMG_1924.jpgSupervisor Carmen Chu and SFBC’s Jason Serafino-Agar.

For Supervisor Carmen Chu, that kind of training would have come in handy when she was growing up. Chu said her household didn’t have a bike and she’s just getting up to speed on riding now. "When I was a kid, my parents were working a lot of times, we didn’t have a bike at home to learn on either," she said. "So, I didn’t grow up with a bicycle."

"But I came out here, went to Golden Gate Park on one of the days that the roads were closed, and learned to bike a bit, but I just need to do some more practice before I’m ready to go on the road with the cars."

That didn’t stop her from arriving at Sunset Elementary this morning by bike. Instead of riding alone, Chu rode a tandem bike with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator Jason Serafino-Agar.

"I’m not road-ready today, so today we rode in tandem," said Chu. "I was in the back, and it was quite fun." Chu sported a stylish fuzzy white helmet while they biked along with a group of students starting at 28th Avenue and Lawton.

IMG_1911.jpgFourth grade teacher Dylan Riley arrives at Sunset Elementary today.

In addition to the fun of bicycling, Principal Lee said this year Bike to School Day was also about building community. Students created artwork for the event, and many of them rode to school together.

"Last year was just more of a first annual event riding to school, and this year it’s about more than riding to school, it’s our community, it’s about helping the environment, and it’s about getting kids to exercise and save on pollution," said Lee.

IMG_1946.jpgStudents who rode their bike to school assemble before the schoolday starts at Sunset Elementary.

IMG_1898.jpgTrying new tricks.
IMG_1907.jpgBikes overwhelm Sunset Elementary this morning.

  • Awesome! A great measure of success for increases in bicycling.

    Also glad to see Carmen Chu beginning to see beyond the windshield perspective 🙂

  • tea

    Thank you Supervisor Chu for perpetuating cycling’s image as a once-a-year “fun” activity that make you look funny. Seriously, the only thing missing in the picture is the big red clown noses. Party on! Sigh.

  • Nick

    Did the “Safe routes to school” grant produce any physical changes on the street so kids can actually bike safely to school? Or as the article implies, was it strictly used for bike education?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

First Bike to School Day in San Francisco a Success

|
A very happy bike-riding student at Monroe Elementary School in the Excelsior. Flickr photo: Marc Caswell All morning I’ve been asking myself (and some others) why kids riding bicycles to school is a pressworthy event. Don’t kids always ride bikes to school or have we become so car-dependent that even this sancrosanct part of being […]

Bike to School Day Grows Into Bike to School Week

|
It’s Bike to School Week. That’s right — the burgeoning event is no longer confined to a single day. Over 2,500 kids and adults at 52 schools are expected to participate, up from 40 schools last year, according to the SF Bicycle Coalition, which coordinates the event. SFBC Communications Director Kristin Smith said organizers expanded […]

Hundreds Expected to Take Part in Bike to School Day Thursday

|
Commuter convoys of students, parents, teachers, administrators and bicycle educators are expected to take part in tomorrow’s first annual Bike to School Day in San Francisco, an effort to educate communities about the dangers of driving to school, and the healthy benefits of bicycling. "It’s something I felt the city was ready for," said Benjamin […]

Longfellow Elementary Students Celebrate Walk to School Day

|
Longfellow Elementary students make signs celebrating Walk to School Day. Photo: Jason Serafino-Agar At an early morning rally before school started today, students from San Francisco’s Longfellow Elementary School in the Excelsior district gathered to celebrate Walk to School Day and the launch of the Safe Routes to School program. While the adults present may […]