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Kids biking to school

I currently have a 6 and 9 year old who have been biking with me in different capacities since they coud wear a helmet and they are both olkd enough now that I can trust them to ride with me to places like church, Cub Scouts, grandmas house, etc... on mostly side streets with one little stretch of a main road.

Anyhooo, my thoughts are that I would like them to have th the opportunity to bike to school when they get a little bit older, maybe 6th grade or so. I live in Cheswick, which is part of the Allegheny Valley School District and it seems that a lot of poitics would probably be involved to get something like this moving. I know they cant stop them from biking wherever they want, but I think it would be nice to have the school involved and offer parking or whatever. I have a friend who used to attend a local catholic school and could ride his bike there but ad to pass a safety check, bike inspection and something else.

SO, long story short, has anyone out there ever tried to broach this subject with a local school? any suggestions of how/ where i should start, etc...

2012-09-07 02:14:41

That is awesome. I really don't have an answer for you but it seems like it was something kids used to do a lot. In movies even from the 80s, kids are seen riding bikes to school. If I recall correctly, my old elementary school had bike racks.. No one used them much. I think this is important. Start them young, and maybe even other parents and kids will want to follow your example.

2012-09-07 02:21:32

2012-09-07 02:25:15

Paging Tabby?

I think she might know of some local and national efforts for promoting safe biking to school.

2012-09-07 02:26:27

Back when I was a lad (not too long ago) I used to bike to school. My

elementary had a bike rack, and we'd just deposit our bikes (without locks!) and they'd be there for us at the end of the day. Granted, this was in the late 80s and 90s in a (very) small town in the middle of cornfields in Ohio, but I digress.

Funny, I just always thought of it as a normal thing to do as a kid - bike to school.

2012-09-07 02:29:28

Yeah I did also from the movies, though my schools were always a distance away with roads that were hilly with blind, tight turns. Not something I would bike on as an adult. I couldn't even really walk to school.

2012-09-07 02:32:16

thanks pseuda, yes I do. The national Safe Routes to School initiative encourages more children to walk and bike to school. There are a lot of resources available to help coordinate efforts at schools.

The Allegheny County Health Department has a Safe Routes to School program and has partnered with BikePGH on it. Here are links to check out. Use the contact form on the ACHD website if you want more info.

2012-09-07 03:45:15

I fought with the school just to get one of those little green dudes with an orange flag for a dangerous crosswalk when my son was in elementary school... no luck. I hope you fair better.

2012-09-07 18:07:50

My kids’ elementary school doesn’t allow bikes on the property because someone got hurt—not clear if it’s kids or other folks nearby. Both my kids love being on the xtracycle now and by elementary school age will definitely be biking with us to school. We’ll just have to find a convenient tree to lock up to. =)

2012-09-07 18:23:30

My little brothers high school actually made a rule in their student hadbook that they had to sign that said that they weren't allowed to bike to school, they also removed the only sidewalk that came into the school about 5 years ago... some of the school in the suburbs are ridiculously anti-bike

2012-09-07 18:32:35

Now that my kids are out of the North Allegheny School system, I'm less inclined to track down what the requirements are. There's not a thing on the district website, and only one obscure reference on the page for one school (Marshall Middle, IIRC) that even mentions the possibility that anyone might even consider biking to school, and that's several years old.

NA, the largest district in the county outside the city, is notable for having student parking for its 9th and 10th graders, who go to a different building from the 11th and 12th graders. I am not aware of a single bike rack at any of the 12 schools in the district.

OTOH, I've had an idea for some time to try to link every NA school, and many of the neighborhoods, via a system of trails and quiet streets. I think it can be done.

2012-09-07 19:05:07

Mark, I've actually had neighbors argue that they don't want any sidewalks put in our neighborhood because they'd have to shovel the snow off them. I usually successfully pretend the conversation, and those people, don't exist in my world.

I heard, I believe on here, that Mt. Lebo didn't allow bikes either, even if the kid parked it off school property. Some places really don't want me to ever shop or live there. I know it's not personal to me specifically, but they must hate the color of my kind of income, property, and sales taxes.

the beast - my impression from other parents in AV is that it's a little more reasonable than Mt. Lebo, but I wouldn't expect enthusiasm. Please keep us posted if you do contact them or make any kind of progress, especially with SRTS.

Tabby - I thought SRTS was on hold because of funding... didn't the most recent transportation bill strip it (but then not get passed)?

2012-09-07 21:20:15

@ejwme the County's SRTS program is funded by the PADoH

2012-09-07 21:28:52

Stu - somewhere I've read another good piece that makes an argument for exactly your linkage idea from somewhere else in the U.S. I'll search later.

2012-09-07 21:39:03

Lebo allows bikes for middle- and high-schoolers. No restriction against kids coming to school for elementary, just none on the property. Not that a restriction on mode of transit is enforceable or likely legal (though schools have considerable leeway when disciplining students under the law in many states).

Not great, but we can make it work. We're also less than a mile from the elementary school so there's the other two-feet transportation mode as well.

2012-09-08 00:56:55

@ejwme I believe on here, that Mt. Lebo didn't allow bikes either, even if the kid parked it off school property.

That was me. And it was true.

OTOH, I was a collection of bad habits and attitudes then, and they just plain didn't like me.

2012-09-08 02:54:51

It seems that we are not that far off, although they have set a bit higher of an age than I anticipated. I do find it very promising that they have a policy in place, although it does seem wide open as far as the parking, etc go and leaves it in the hands of the principal or superintendant. I have about a million things on my plate, but hope to work this farther and link it up to the other info already provided here.

Thanks again.

2012-09-10 16:02:31

You might find out who represents you on the school board and start talking with them about SRTS etc.

2012-09-10 17:08:53

Im currently working on doing something similiar to this for my sons cub scout pack. That way the kids have some experience riding the streets for transpo in a controlled environment.

As for the article, I am VERY surprised that there are kids there without helmets on.

2012-10-01 19:13:43
Reviving an old thread. Last night I biked out to Chartiers Valley Middle/H.S. to watch a playoff basketball game. The school is huge and does not have one single bicycle rack. Of course the school itself is located on one of the most bike/pedestrian unfriendly pieces of land available in Allegheny County, between a highway and an interstate. Since I was early I watched their track team practice for a while. As a middle aged man I think I could outrun half the kids on the team. I wonder if there is cause-and-affect for where they located their school.
2014-03-12 12:21:04
Marko et al... As a former teacher and track coach who has visited most WPIAL schools, what you saw at Char Valley is quite common. Schools, like every other public building, are not built with peds or bikers in mind, only buses and other motorized vehicles. Despite my complaints, my former school/township did next to nothing to accommodate peds or cyclists who desired to walk/ride to school, and as for bike racks, what's the point when no one bikes to school due to the horrible and dangerous access? As for your contention that you could, "...outrun half the kids on the team." I have little doubt that you have made an accurate statement.
2014-03-12 14:53:50
Glad to see that this thread exists. Wish it were, ahem, more active.
2014-03-12 16:01:54
From http://localhost/srts/ "While funding is currently unavailable to launch Safe Routes to School programs in our area, we encourage parents and school administrators to consider hosting a Walk or Bike to School Day and distributing materials about safe road use to students and parents." So, what does this funding come from, and when or under what circumstances might it become available? Real changes on the street would be best, but even if it's just some decent bike parking at the destination that's something.
2014-03-12 16:29:47
Ride a bike to school dam everyone did that when I was a kid..pot holes snow ice cars trucks one lane roads who gave a shit,,ride and bike trails or bike lanes and we made it to school and back to home,,,TIMES HAVE CHANGED
2014-03-12 20:41:40
@tink, it's so sad that this is the norm. When I was in high school we had about 25 kids on the varsity CC team. Last year I watched my old school in a meet and they only had about ten kids, and the other schools had small teams too. The winning time was way slower than what I used to run, and I rarely cracked the top ten.
2014-03-12 21:41:42
This page has a little info on the federal Safe Routes to School funding that was part of 2005's transportation bill and various extensions, and was deleted in 2012's transportation bill. The states can still fund such things if they want. It appears PA has decided to stop funding such infrastructure and instead try to "educate students, encourage participation, and enforce safety along walking and bicycling routes". Given that it's PennDOT, I suspect this means teaching kids to keep out of the way of cars.
2014-03-13 03:24:52
Marko82 wrote:Of course the school itself is located on one of the most bike/pedestrian unfriendly pieces of land available in Allegheny County, between a highway and [the PennDot District 11 offices].
There, fixed.
2014-03-13 05:10:50
Edmonds, that's very interesting. I did notice a penndot flag on the building across the street but I thought it was a photo center or such. I think it would be a great educational experience if we could get the staff from District-11 to commit to bike to work day; even if we spot them the use of the park n ride lot out on route 50. That whole area is F'd up (even in a car).
2014-03-13 08:51:45
The really, really sad part is, a large number of PennDot staff are motorcycle enthusiasts, including upper management, and somehow they are completely unable to see any commonality between our safety concerns on the road, i.e. vulnerability, visibility, distracted drivers, etc. Gah.
2014-03-13 10:26:29
Kids that bike to school most days of the year grow up to be adults that respect cyclists when they drive a car, and think of cycling as a viable mode of transportation. Kids that get driven or bussed to school every day of the year grow up to be adults that resent cyclists on the streets, and think of cycling as either risky recreation or low-life transportation. This is where Pittsburgh and much of the US is, sadly. Attitudes are slowly improving, but to better affect attitudes and habits when people are young, we need to get schools to encourage cycling and teach safe cycling.
2014-03-15 11:49:18
sent to Sean: Thanks for sharing the good news about government-funded research into ways to get kids to bike or walk to school instead of taking a bus. I biked to school every day between 6th and 12th grades, back in the 60s and 70s, and it helped start me on a lifetime habit of exercise. It is sad that today’s American kids typically don’t experience the independence, freedom, empowerment, and exercise of biking or walking to school. Too many hours spent cooped up in a school bus! If $1.5 million dollars can help put a dent in the estimated $200 billion-per-year cost of obesity in the US, that would be great! And I’m glad that this million dollars is not going to an unnecessary war in Iraq. Thanks for sharing this positive news about good research and wise use of taxpayer money, Sean. -Paul Sean Hannity wrote, "For example, the Washington Free Beacon reports that the federal government has given a $1.5 million grant to a hospital in Seattle to research how “bicycle trains” and “walking school buses” can help obese children lose weight. This walking school bus idea was endorsed by Michelle Obama and her “Let's Move” initiative. A million here, a million there – these grants add up. And while some of their research may be noble, is it really the role of the government to be doling out our tax dollars for projects such as this?"
2014-05-15 10:12:50
@Marko82 I'm not sure what route you took to Char Valley Middle/High school but that's actually some great riding. Or the start there of. Many many people drive to the Starbucks there on the corner to start rides. If you need a route suggestion from the city let me know.
2014-05-15 12:50:28
Kids who bike or walk to school do better on concentration tests than kids who are transported by bus or car according to Danish study of 20,000 kids: "The children who were transported to school by car, train, or bus scored lower in the test than those who somehow made the journey to school themselves."
2014-08-21 08:47:49