Elizabeth Lane Elementary students mark national Bike to School Day
by Morgan Smith
For John and Sara Schubert, riding their bikes to school is really fun. It’s not something they do very often, but their mom Jen said it’s something she might consider for the future.
The siblings participated in Bike to School Day at Elizabeth Lane Elementary School, an inaugural event that happened nation wide Wednesday, May 9 and in just 13 schools throughout North Carolina. The event is part of May’s National Bike Month and exists to raise awareness of the benefits of bicycling to school.
At Elizabeth Lane Elementary in Matthews, students were encouraged to either bike or walk and nearly 110 students, around 84 families, participated.
Mandy Brock, one of the physical education teachers at the school, said she was impressed by the turnout, and said it’s great to see students and their families taking the initiative to be healthy.
“By students walking or biking to school, it alleviates the traffic, but it’s also a good way to get outside,” she said. “It’s a good exercise and it’s good for their minds.”
The special event was coordinated by the national Safe Routes to School program, and was sponsored by various organizations such as the North Carolina Department of Transportation, who said promoting the event also promotes bike safety, such as helmets, and how to work the handle bar and breaks. In Mecklenburg County, Dick Winters at the Mecklenburg County Health Department, helped coordinate the event in the district’s four participating schools. Winters said Elizabeth Lane Elementary showed interest in the event after they participated in the annual Walk to School Day last fall, which is held every year, the first Wednesday in October, and is the model for Bike to School Day. Other local schools that participated were Cotswold and Olde Providence elementary schools in south Charlotte.
“This came about because of an interest from parents and teachers about active transportation for their students,” Winters said. “These are events — it’s not typically a daily occurrence. But we’re seeing people come out to do this and be exposed to it.”
Winters said the first step to promoting active transportation for kids and their parents is by first raising awareness about the options and benefits.
It’s about “building physical activity into a daily routine,” Winters said. “The benefits are health, physical activity and it’s been shown to increase their readiness to learn.” Winters added that participation in biking and walking and other active transportation shows environmental concern, and will help keep traffic and pollution down around the schools.
But choosing to walk or bike to school is not left in kids’ hands, Winters said, and parents are the ones who really have the decision to choose.
And for Jen Shubert, it’s a choice her kids want her to make, especially because the family is frequent bikers and runners.
“It is fun biking to school,” kindergartener Sara Shubert said. “I wish we could bike everyday.”
But Jen Shubert said first, the family would have to work out a system, figuring out where to store the bikes while the kids are in school, and coordinating who would bike or run with the kids every morning. Elizabeth Lane has two bike racks, one located on each side of the school.
“I’ve actually thought about how we could arrange it,” she said. “They love to be active and talk all the time about not using gas and being environmentally friendly, so I think this is a great practice.”