How long have you been biking to school?
We started biking to school occasionally about a year and a half ago when both my kids were finally at the same school. My son was in Kindergarten and my daughter was in 2nd grade. Now that they are older, and my younger son’s legs are stronger, we have been biking every day with these exceptions: days that are drizzly/rainy; really dark mornings due to daylight savings time; days where I do not have to bring another kid back to my house after school for a play-date; days where my kid is not going home with another family after-school; and days were I do not have to go into work early.
Why did you start?
When my kids were in separate schools, I felt like I was spending the majority of my time driving all over the city. I was getting really tired of spending so much time in the car looking for parking. Now that we have one drop-off and one pick-up, so close to our home, we were able to become regular bikers. Now that we bike regularly, I realize how much more calm we leave the house each morning and how much more centered my kids are when we return home from school.
What advice would you give to other parents interested in walking/biking to school?
There is no safe bike route on the streets where we live, so we take the sidewalk the entire way. We have found a route with wide sidewalks and the fewest driveways and curb cuts. Because we are on the sidewalk, we have developed our own “biking manners” so that we are mindful of pedestrians. We ride in a line order (with me in the middle), so that we are not weaving, cutting others off and being predictable to the walkers. The leader always says, “Excuse me” and the followers always say, “Thank you” to the pedestrian. We also need to go slow and ride wide around corners so that we don’t scare anyone coming that we cannot see. I need to be extra vigilant with the drivers and make eye contact at every crossing. Hand signals and communication beyond basic biking “left turn, right turn” signals are important at busy intersections.
We are lucky because both our kids go to our neighborhood school. Parents that commute across the city or to two different schools are not as lucky. If you want to increase the number of bikers to school, you need to lobby for neighborhood schools.