Few things excite me more than being able to introduce a new activism effort and then see it take off. A few weeks ago, we shared the news that 24 year-old Portlander Kiel Johnson (pronounced “Kyle”) was coordinating a conference on bike trains. (Bike trains are simply group rides where parents and kids meet up and ride into school together.)
Kiel, fresh off an internship with the City of Portland’s Safe Routes to Schools program, is passionate about how bike trains can encourage more people to bike to school. I’m happy to report several exciting updates on his efforts…
At his conference, Kiel signed up six local schools that now have bike trains running at least once per week. The schools are Beach, Sabin, Beverly Cleary, Abernethy, Buckman, and Creative Science. Each school has its own page on the BikeTrainPDX website which lists ride meeting times and locations on a Google Map.
On the first day of school at Beach, 53 riders participated in the bike train.
To keep up with his work, Kiel has applied for funding through the Alliance for Community Traffic Safety’s (ACTS) mini-grant program. Johnson hopes to win a $5,000 grant to help sustain his effort, purchase prizes and marketing materials, and to compensate a Bike Train Conductor position for the entire school year.
And last but not least, after our story back in August, a local producer working on a project for NBC television got in touch with us. NBC is set to air a new show next season (premieres mid-October) called “School Pride” which is sort of like Extreme Makeover for schools. NBC is doing a series of promos for that new show called “Heroes of Education” where they highlight individuals making a difference. The local producer connected with Kiel and now NBC is flying him to Los Angeles to film an interview!
Kiel says the point of his work is to find advocates at each school “The main focus of doing this for me is building a community of biking champions at each school. Bike trains do this by creating a role for those champions to step into.”
This is great progress and we can’t wait to share more about Kiel’s future efforts. For updates, check out BikeTrainPDX.org.