Long lines at the local office supply store and mysterious neighborhood traffic jams around 8am and 2pm means it’s back to school time, which also means it’s kickoff season for the SVBC bicycle education team! We have big plans underway to inspire students from 5 – 18 years old to bike and walk to school.

This year, SVBC’s Safe Routes to School program includes over 20 elementary and middle schools in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. We’ll be in classrooms and on blacktops, teaching kids basic biking rules and encouraging them to use their bikes to get to school. It’s more fun than sitting in a long drop-off line with a frantic parent griping about traffic, and they get a “brain boost” from riding to school. Many of the kids note that their primary motivation for riding or walking to school is the benefit of reducing pollution. Heads-up to fellow grownups – they’re counting on you to do your part, too!

Besides education, SVBC also supports fun activities such as “Walk and Roll Days” at various schools. These are special days where faculty and parents find ways to celebrate students who walk and bike to school – handing out prizes, holding classroom competitions for the most students who walk or bike, or setting up Bike Trains and Walking School Buses. These “Trains” and “Buses” are group rides and walks led by trained volunteers, and are great ways for families and students to connect while making their way to school. Stay tuned for the recap of special celebrations planned for International Walk and Bike to School Day on October 4!

High school students get in on the action through the Eco2School program. We are thrilled to report that we’re continuing to work with Broadway Continuation High and Downtown College Prep El Primero, and that SVBC is beginning a partnership with environmental clubs at Los Altos High, Mountain View High, and Homestead High. Like the elementary and middle schools, they hold Walk and Bike to School Days and learn about bicycling safely, but they take the lead on how to educate and encourage their peers to use active transportation. We hope to have a few groups participate in the YES (Youth for the Environment and Sustainability) Conference, sponsored by Spare the Air Youth.

We are looking forward to getting more kids on bikes this school year!