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BTA brings ‘Commute Challenge’ to schools

Posted by on March 28th, 2008 at 11:56 am

Walk and Bike to School Day
Lots of bikes at Sunnyside Environmental
School in Southeast Portland.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance hopes that friendly competition is what will get more Portland schoolkids walking and biking to school.

They’ve just opened registration for the first-ever Walk + Bike to School Challenge. The event, modeled after their highly successful Bike Commute Challenge which is focused on Oregon businesses, will challenge kids across the Portland metro area to walk and bike to school more often.

The friendly competition will pit Portland elementary school students against each other to see which one can tally the most walk and bike trips during the month of May.

Walk and Bike to School Day
This cool kid is ready
for the challenge!

According to the BTA, they’ll also compete against Portland State University students, who are having their own Bike Commute Challenge in May. A party to award the winners is scheduled for June 8th at the North Park Blocks near PSU.

This event is part of the BTA’s larger goal to help more Portland families make the decision to go by bike. During the month of May, the BTA will host weekly workshops on safe family riding. Lilian Karabaic, organizer of the Walk + Bike Challenge says the event hopes to capture a growing interest in family biking.

Karabaic says, “Family commuting has become more prominent and it is time for an event that focuses on that community.”

According to Robert Ping, statewide coordinator for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, In 1969, 60% of kids walked and biked to school. Today, that number has dropped to 12%.

“Hopefully,” says Karabaic, “this challenge will inspire families to take the first step to reversing that trend.”

More info at WalknBike.org.

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  • Oliver March 28, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Yes! I hear folks out there who\’ve been totally fleeced by the media and are afraid to let their kids camp out in their own back yard, let alone ride/walk to school. Take back the streets!

    My main question with this is if there\’s a helmet donation organization that\’s associated or that\’s making sure these kids are bundling up their heads (and those that want to ride can get helmets).

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  • JayS. March 28, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    We accept the challenge!!! Every school day in May all directions. Thanks to the BTA.

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  • Resident March 28, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Go BTA! This is the kind of thing that promotes change and opens doors, frees cripling mindsets, and is a huge positive influce to connect members of the community!

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  • Lillian Karabaic March 28, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Oliver: We\’re currently working on providing low-cost helmets with Trauma Nurses Talk Tough, but if you know anyone who would like to donate more, let me know!

    Based on our experience with the Safe Routes to School Program, most of the students will more likely be walking than riding their bicycles to school.

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  • Opus the Poet March 30, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I would have to check in person, but the pitiful state of the local elementary schools\’ bike racks in this part of TX makes me think that most kids arrive at school in Mommy\’s SUV.

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  • Blake March 31, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Hahaha great article but I just wanted to maybe bring up the fact that the picture on the front of the mom and the bikes around her kinda looks like handsome dave from zoobomb dressed up in womens clothing around zoobomb pyle bikes. Just a little inside notice….

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  • brian March 31, 2008 at 8:58 am

    I walk my kids to school everyday.

    My kids won\’t be riding the 1 mile to school. The moms on cell phones trying to get their little chubsters to school on time just make it too dangerous.

    There needs to be broader enforcment of the existing laws. The one day of patrol per year in the school zone, and complete lack of patrol in the neighborhood is just not working.

    I really don\’t think kids under the age of 11 or 12 have the facility to predict what drivers are going to do.

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  • Bob March 31, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I live near an elementary school in SE Portland and I don\’t ride anywhere near it in the morning when kids are arriving for school and in the afternoon when they are leaving. On numerous occasions I have almost been hit by parents dropping their kids off. I am fully supportive of more kids walking/riding to school, but I think there needs to be some educational outreach to parents too. They are making it unsafe for riders/walkers….at least at the school in my hood.

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  • JayS. April 1, 2008 at 8:57 am

    I wrote a long message yesterday that didn\’t post properly. This is (believe it or not) an abbreviated version. I agree many schools are very dangerous at pick up and drop off time. I find it to be the most frustrating challenge of our ride.

    At our school I find the sidewalks to feel just as dangerous as the road. You still have to cross the street and cars are parked right up to or blocking the sidewalks. That means that when crossing on foot you are inches behind or in front of a parked car (more likely a mini van) and not visible to the traffic you want to cross. When your on a bike you can move to the center of your lane before crossing. Those few feet make you much more visible to the parent handing a snack to the little one, on the cell phone, and driving all at once. I feel more seen at the school in the road on my bike than I do crossing at corners that drivers can not see.

    Of course every family has to do what works for them. When we were close enough to our school to walk we often did that. Now we are further and that wouldn\’t work. Taking public transportation would add to much time to our morning commute. WE choose to ride AMAP (as much as possible) and drive or ride with friends the rest of the time.

    My belief is that any child who can ride in a straight line behind an adult and can pay attention to that adults actions and respond accordingly can commute on there own bike with the company of an adult. We regularly ride with a third grader who does a great job. Pick sheltered routs minimize challenging traffic situations and ride in ways to make your self visible.

    If more kids biked and walked to school the traffic at the school wouldn\’t be nearly as bad. IF parents would park in legal parking spots, facing the proper direction, not stop and drop in the middle of the street, and remember that everyone is trying to manage \”precious cargo\” it would be much safer. Personally I often park a bit further from school knowing that some parents need to juggle more toddlers and babies and less independent school kids than I do.

    For those of you who have to commute by schools…. fortunately the traffic is only horrendous for about fifteen minutes twice a day.

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