Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bike to School Day in NOPA: SF Day School Students Spin to Campus

Riding through Golden Gate Park on the way to school

Top of Central Avenue, just a 1/2 block to go

Have to take the sidewalk during the morning blocking of the bike lane

The first-ever Bike to School Day for the San Francisco Day School inspired more than 25 students, teachers, and parents to spin through Golden Gate Park on a crisp morning to reach the campus at Golden Gate and Masonic Avenues. Leonard Moon, a Day School parent, organized the ride for the school. At first he thought the only kids committed to the ride today were his own. Instead at least twenty gathered in Golden Gate Park to kick-off the ride to the North Panhandle. Only a few students bike regularly to school now, according to Moon, but he hopes today's event will encourage more to do so. "Most kids think of the bike as a toy; it is much more useful than that."

Most of the kids on bikes were from the fourth through sixth grades, according to Jason Stone, a teacher in the Technology Department for the Day School. "But we also have a few younger students this morning." He was especially impressed that eighth-graders appeared for the morning ride. "To get them out this early is really surprising." Stone lives near the ocean and rides to school several times a week, especially now with the new smooth pavement on JFK Drive.

Rajan Dalal drove from Noe Valley to the meeting site in the park where he met his eleven-year-old son Kavi, who bicycled there, for the final spin to the school together. "This is so special to ride all together."* Rajan said they biked in their neighborhood and have found mostly flat routes.

Dr. David Jackson, Head of School, had planned to lead the bike bus from the park to the campus, but he had trouble finding the group at the meeting place. Instead he was standing with his Raleigh at the school entrance greeting all the bikers on their arrival. "We have quite a few faculty who bike every day," he noted. So far only a few students bike regularly. "Our families come from disparate areas in the city and our kids are mostly young so it's a little tricky to have them bike to school even with their parents." Jackson was particularly concerned about adopting more traffic calming measures on Masonic Avenue, the corridor that borders the Day School.

Students and parents all over San Francisco find biking to school safer and easier than ever before. Last year 500 students from 25 schools participated in San Francisco's Bike to School Day. This year organizers hope that number will double. The Unified School District supports the special biking day, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition organizers the event with other partners. For parents and kids who want to increase their bike skills, the Presidio YMCA Bike Program offers "Bike Smart, Ride Safe for Kids" this Saturday, April 17th from 10am to 12:30pm at the Presidio YMCA Bike Skills Area. For more information, contact Ben Caldwell, Director of Bicycle Programs.

1pm update: Early estimates suggest that 1000 students rode their bikes this morning to more than 30 schools. For further news about bike-to-school events around the city today and some great photos, check the YBIKE blog here.

* Correction: the earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Kavi Dalal rode in his father's vehicle to the park. Kavi informed us that he biked all the way from Noe Valley to the park and didn't burn up any gasoline. Good job, Kavi!

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