Designed to encourage kids to ride to school and to show parents that it could be done safely, John R. Downes Elementary School, in cooperation with the BikeNewark, City of Newark, WILMAPCO, and DelDOT and with assistance from the Newark Bike Project and UD’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, hosted a successful Bike to School Week that took place May 7–11, 2018.
Students and parents were encouraged to meet at one of four designated starting points, and volunteer ride leaders led students to school on predetermined routes.
Before the start of each ride, the leaders would go over basic bike safety and rules of the road with the students and talk about the importance of wearing a helmet every time they rode.
Every rider was required to wear a helmet, and students who didn’t have one were provided one through a Safe Kids Delaware grant. Each day as students arrived at the school, community members and teachers greeted them with participation prizes, including a custom sticker commemorating the event.
The initial day boasted more than 100 bicycles in the school’s bike racks after four organized bike trains arrived from four meeting locations within the city.
The practice of riding to school not only promotes physical health, mental well-being, and social interaction but has the added benefit of mitigating traffic from car drop-off and pick-up, which, in turn, makes walking and biking to school that much safer and easier. Downes Elementary has a long-standing track record of helping kids incorporate fitness into their everyday activities and creating a culture in which walking and biking to school are the norm not the exception. The effort put forth during Bike to School Week exemplify this commitment and is a prime example of a school and community coming together to create a healthy social and learning environment.
Based on the success of this weeklong event, BikeNewark will be looking to do even more in 2019 with Downes during Bike to School Week.