Thousands to Gear Up for Bike to School Week
May 21, 2014
Kid-friendly version of Bike to Work Week breaks participation record
On Monday, May 26th, thousands of kids across Metro Vancouver will pull their bikes out of garages and backyards, and hit the neighbourhood streets to cycle to school during the biggest Bike to School Week yet.
The free region-wide event is organized by HUB Cycling and HASTe BC, and coincides with its grown-up counterpart, Bike to Work Week. Promoting biking to school to kids and parents as an alternative to driving, Bike to School Week provides trip tracking tools, promotional materials and prizes to all participating schools, helping teachers and staff support the week of wheel fun.
More than 80 schools are participating this year, compared to 60 in 2013, but according to Scout Gray, HUB Bike to School Program Manager, it's not just a numbers game.
"Bike to School Week has really taken on a life of its own now," says Gray. "In the first few years there wasn't much buzz around the event. That's not the case now at all - entire schools and communities are getting on board, and planning their own events around the week. It's a huge highlight in the school year for a lot of people."
Gray says parents have become a big part of the success of Bike to School Week, supporting the many benefits cycling brings to kids and families, and for the broader community.
"Active travel - not just to and from school, but in daily life - is very important to keep kids strong and their minds sharp," says Tania Newman who, along with Barbara Towns, is both a Lynn Valley Elementary School parent and Bike to School Week organizer. "Since the inception of Bike to School Week, we also noticed how the many families riding their bikes to school on a daily basis helped reduce local traffic."
Adds Towns, "When people get out of their cars, they help create a community in which all ages interact, the frenetic pace of modern life slows down, and the mind and body is exercised."
According to the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, youth who cycle at least one hour per week have greater cardiovascular fitness, lower body mass index, lower waist circumference and lower cholesterol than those who do not cycle.
Reflecting many of the transportation goals and strategies introduced in recent years by Translink and local municipalities - related to accessibility, safety and sustainability - Bike to School Week has also attracted considerable support from leaders across Metro Vancouver.
"Coquitlam is proud to support Bike to School Week, because the use and growth of multi-modal transportation networks depends in part on what we expose our children to at a young age," said Mayor Richard Stewart, City of Coquitlam. "When parents and teachers demonstrate to kids that cycling is a great way to get to school, they'll grow up enjoying getting to work on their bikes, like I do."