SAN FRANCISCO—On Thursday, April 12th, thousands of children throughout San Francisco will pedal their way to class to celebrate San Francisco’s annual Bike to School Day. Now in its fourth year, this year’s Bike to School Day is set to be the biggest yet, with participation from 40 schools, six District Supervisors and a main media event at Sunnyside Elementary School.
Since it began in 2009, San Francisco Bike to School Day has grown each year, thanks in part to the expansion of the Safe Routes to School Program, which is now active in 15 San Francisco schools. In 2009, 600 people participated; in 2010, 1,600 participated; and in 2011, more than 2,000 San Franciscans participated. Organizers are anticipating record-breaking participation this year.
The number people biking in San Francisco has risen 71% in the last five years, according to counts from the SF Municipal Transportation Agency. The number of San Francisco families who are discovering the joys of biking together are also clearly increasing.
“More and more families are discovering that bicycling is an easy and enjoyable way to move around San Francisco,” says Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, who co-hosts the event with the San Francisco Safe Routes to School partners. “As our city continues to add more safe and protected family-friendly bikeways like the new one on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, we expect to see even more families discovering the joy of biking together.”
The SF Unified School District is a key partner in the Safe Routes to School partnership. “We know when kids start the day with exercise, they are more likely to be awake and alert and perform better in school. More kids safely biking and walking to school makes for healthier kids and a healthier school,” says San Francisco School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia.
“The San Francisco’s Safe Routes to School program is proving to be very successful,” says Nik Kaestner, Director of Sustainability at the SF School District. “We’re seeing more and more students and families who feel comfortable biking and walking to school which helps the School District achieve our commitment to improving sustainability citywide.”
“People love seeing us biking to school, they smile and wave. It’s a really fun way to start our day,” says Brook Broughton who regularly bikes to school with her daughter and son. “These days, there are so many other parents and kids biking, and that community really helps us feel safer.”
Supervisors representing six districts across the city will be celebrating San Francisco Bike to School Day at schools in their districts, including District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar, who will be biking to Peabody Elementary School for Bike to School Day.
“Bike to School Day is a wonderful event that helps families bike more to school and elsewhere and that’s good for San Francisco schools, communities, neighborhoods and businesses. I look forward to being a part of Bike to School Day every year,” says Supervisor Mar.
In response to the growth and interest in family biking, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is today launching its new Family Biking Guide, a comprehensive online guide for all stages of family biking. The guide is available for free download and covers instructions and best practices for biking with any age child.
In addition to the just-released Family Biking Guide, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition also offers free Family Biking Classes to encourage and support the growing number of families who bike. See the downloadable guide and course listings at sfbike.org/family.
WHAT: Bike to School Day
WHO: Participants from 40 schools citywide and elected officials and School District leadership
WHEN: Morning of Thursday, April 12th, 2012
MAIN CITYWIDE CELEBRATION: 8:40 am, Sunnyside Elementary School, 250 Foerster Street, with parents, teachers, students, Safe Routes to School partners and elected officials.
FOR PHOTO OPS and INTERVIEWS:
Meet at Sunnyside Playground (200 Melrose Avenue) at 7:55 am and follow groups of families and kids biking to Sunnyside Elementary School, 250 Foerster Street. Students, parents, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition staff and Safe Routes to Schools Partners will bet here. For information about citywide neighborhood school rides with specific elected officials, please contact the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
About the San Francisco Bike to School Day Partners
Bike to School Day is presented in partnership with the SF Bicycle Coalition, SF Department of Public Health, Presidio Community YMCA Bicycle Program, SF Municipal Transportation Agency, Mayor’s Shape Up SF Coalition, and the SF Unified School District’s Student Support Services Department and the Office of Sustainability to help show the next generation the joys of bike commuting.