By Tara Cavanaugh
A parade of bike riders rolled in to Wines Elementary Wednesday morning. Tikes on tiny bikes with training wheels. Kids in bike buggies, enjoying the ride. Tandem bikes. Junior-sized mountain bikes. Grown-up sized bikes ridden by moms and dads.
The unusually high bike traffic was due to Bike to School Day, celebrated nationally for the first time this year on May 9. The event is sponsored by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which also organizes Walk to School Day in October.
Several schools in the district celebrated Bike to School Day: Clague Middle School, Slauson Middle School, Logan Elementary, Ann Arbor Open, Bach Elementary, Burns Park Elementary, Martin Luther King Elementary, Mitchell Elementary, Thurston Elementary, Tappan Middle School and Skyline High School.
Each school celebrated the event in its own way, some on different days due to scheduling conflicts.
Wines Elementary partnered with the Safe Kids Huron Valley Coalition and the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital, which provided helmet fittings and bike safety information. Two representatives from Mott manned a table with information about bike safety in front of the school .
“Since this is the first Bike to School Day we decided just to partner with one school and see how it went,” said Amy Teddy, the injury prevention program manager at Mott. “We were pretty impressed with the turnout. I think next year it’d be nice to get some volunteers in the community and coordinate with other schools too.”
Teddy said she was impressed that the bikers were wearing helmets. “The parents modeling helmet use was great as well,” said Amber Kroeker, who also works for Mott as an injury prevention health educator. “A lot of times we’ll see parents riding with their kids but not wearing their helmet. They really underestimate their influence.”
To reinforce the importance of helmet safety, Wines students who rode their bikes into school were entered into a raffle for cool new helmets.
Greg Miller rode his bike to Wines with his son Andrew. He said Bike to School Day “will get us back into the habit” of riding their bikes more often. Their 1.6 mile ride to school is mostly safe – but they’re extra careful when riding their their bikes over the bridge on Newport Road.
“It’s part of our healthy initiatives for keeping kids healthy and active,” said Wines Principal Dr. David DeYoung as the bike racks filled up quickly before the first bell rang. “We have a lot of walkers already, and riders. It’s just a matter of trying to encourage more.”
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