For the third consecutive year, John R. Downes 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 6–10, 2019. This weeklong event is designed to encourage kids to ride to school and to show parents that it can be done safely.
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.
Every rider was required to wear a helmet. Each day as students arrived at the school, community members and teachers greeted them with participation prizes, including a custom sticker commemorating the event. On Wednesday, Mayor Jerry Clifton was present to greet the children.
The week saw more than 175 bicycles in the school’s bike racks after four organized bike trains arrived from four meeting locations within the city, an average of more than 35 per day.
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 2020 with Downes during Bike to School Week and hope to expand this event to at least one other area elementary school during National Bike Month.