Kids Do Want to Ride Their Bikes to School. But Bike Racks and Safe Streets Would Help.

Bike-riding the few blocks to F.P. Caillet Elementary back in the day was certainly no big deal -- it certainly wasn't revolutionary, it certainly wasn't news. It's how we got to school. Flash-forward three decades, and our neighborhood -- same one in which I grew up -- stages a Bike to School Day, since next to nobody's doing it anymore. A single day. And that was last year. Over on Bike Friendly Oak Cliff this morning, Jason Roberts writes about last week's efforts to get kids at Rosemont Elementary -- where, turns out, there isn't even a bike rack on the third-through-fifth-grade upper campus. Roberts points out: Says the Federal Highway Administration, about half of all kids walked and cycled to school 40 years ago; that number has since dwindled to 15 percent, if that. No. 1 reason why not: traffic-safety concerns.

Hence BFOC's efforts to get kids back in the saddle -- about 100 by week's end, when those participating were treated to root beer floats at Eno's, awwwww. But just getting kids back on bikes is half the battle; the bigger issue, Roberts writes, stems from the lack of safe streets around schools (why, hello, Skyline). Some of that could and should be dealt with in the one-two punch that is the Dallas Bike Plan coupled with the Complete Streets Initiative. Roberts offers a handful of solutions, but notes:

Sadly, the reality we face now is that when we create large road systems, people feel more comfortable driving faster and taking their eyes off the road. ... What did we do by making things faster and more convenient for cars? Parents became afraid to allow their kids to walk and bike and chose not to which created a negative feedback loop resulting in everyone deciding to simply give up and drive.
Via e-mail this morning, though, he says he's emboldened by the turnout last week -- which raised enough dough through T-shirt sales to install a bike rack at Rosemont. "Due to the success," Roberts writes, "we're looking at rolling out similar programs in schools throughout the area." Details forthcoming.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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