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Friday, April 8, 2011

San Francycle: Bike to School Day Is More Popular Than You Think

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 11:56 AM


At last, an answer to the question that has long intrigued San Francisco: Is it a good idea to ask kids to bike to school?

As it turns out: Yes. Yes, it is.

When we were young, Bike to School Day happened five days a week. But here, in San Francisco, it's an official affair only one day every year, and that day was yesterday.

So, how'd it go?

It went great. Thousands of kids at 40 city schools pedaled their way to class -- with no reports of accidents or disruption. And each of those kids deserves a medal of honor, or at least an ice cream cone, considering how blustery it was in San Francisco yesterday.

"If the number of kids who walk and bike to school was restored to 1969 levels, our nation would cut 3.2 billion vehicle miles ... the equivalent of keeping more than 250,000 cars off the road for a year," the Board of Education wrote two years ago in a resolution that endorsed the event.

The Board of Supes digs it, too. Eric Mar guided youngsters through the Richmond, Carmen Chu served in the Sunset, and Scott Weiner pedaled alongside kids from the child-heavy Noe Valley. David Campos hopped on his bike in the Mission, while John Avalos rode with kids in the Excelsior.

And of course, nobody had more fun than the students. Check out the delightful kid-designed poster for the event, featuring a very San Francisco "eco family."

Even in the suburbs, where families seemingly prefer driving to cycling, kids are catching on: Next week is Bike to School Day in Menlo Park.

So, why not make cycling to school a regular thing? We suggest Bike to School Fridays, perhaps. The S.F. Bike Coalition is, taking tentative steps to make that happen, with a campaign to encourage more cycling between now and Bike to Work Day in May.

But officially sanctioned bike rides to school are still a newish idea in San Francisco. It's only been two years since the city adopted national Safe Routes to School programs, and with a heavy backlog at the SFMTA, many schools still don't have enough bike racks. (Take a look at this photo of a clogged rack at Children's Day School as evidence.)

Don't let that slow you down, though -- there are still plenty of fun rides for youngsters this weekend: Healthy Saturday in Golden Gate Park and Sunday Streets on JFK and along Ocean Beach, to name a few.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

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Matt Baume


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