[This story was written by BikePortland contributor and Beach School parent, Chris Sullivan]
at Beach School on Friday.
(Photos: Chris Sullivan)
A few years ago, bikes were forbidden at Beach School in North Portland. Here’s a snip from the school’s 2002-03 family handbook:
“Bicycles, Skateboards, Roller Skates, etc… Due to the safety factor and other problems that occur at school over scooters, skateboards, Walkmans, roller skates, radios, toys, bicycles, etc., we are asking that students not bring these items to school.”
Last Friday morning the school hosted the culminating event of Walk + Bike to School month — a walk and bike train with over 100 kids, parents, staff, and neighbors. It stretched for four blocks.
Here’s video of the train in action:
The story of how Beach School changed its commuting culture so quickly is about people coming together to make the Safe Routes to Schools program a reality: dedicated parents and students; the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), the City of Portland; school administrators, teachers, and staff.
Beach School Principal Thomas Breuckman says the support of PBOT and the BTA has helped put biking and walking on the map at his school.
“The program has really been in the spotlight at Beach this school year – and hopefully for many years to come. Students feel pride and excitement knowing they are participating in the Bike and Walk Program. Their parents feel good knowing they are supporting a healthy activity for their children and staff are excited to welcome students who have already had a bit of morning exercise to begin their day.”
The sense of a strong community environment has been a common theme among those participating. The treats from the Bike Fairy and added exercise appear to be great motivators for the students who walk and bike to the school, but getting to know each other and share the experience seems invaluable parents, as Laurie Paulsen, parent and Walk + Bike volunteer organizer, explains:
“[T]he conversations along the way and around the bike rack build a stronger school and neighborhood community. I talk to people at the bike rack whom I never see otherwise.”
As a parent of the school myself for several years, it’s wonderful to see the community coming together and forming bonds. My daughter always seems more engaged and connected to the school when we pull up in the morning among all of the other families at the bike racks.
Bryn Dearborn, Beach School PTA President, echoes these sentiments:
“[T]he most exciting part of more kids riding and walking to Beach is the community aspect. You actually get to see people and talk to people. That goes for the kids too. Just the few blocks of the Bike Train it is so cool how the kids talk and interact even though they are in different classes.”
The unofficial count of just kids’ bikes locked up at the school Friday morning — to the new staple racks, to trees, to fences, to signs, to other bikes…wherever there was any space remaining — was 62. The goal for all riders was 50. Well done Beach School!