Event to encourage Oak Harbor kids to bike to school

Braden Zimmerman, left, locks up the scooter he rode to school Tuesday morning, while friend Paul Fiawoo waits for him. Both are fourth graders at Crescent Harbor Elementary. - Michelle Beahm/Whidbey News-Times
Braden Zimmerman, left, locks up the scooter he rode to school Tuesday morning, while friend Paul Fiawoo waits for him. Both are fourth graders at Crescent Harbor Elementary.
— image credit: Michelle Beahm/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor drivers should be especially careful May 7 as student and adult bicyclists are taking to the streets en mass in celebration of National Bike to School Day.

Whidbey Island Bicycle Club is partnering with a few Oak Harbor schools to participate in the special day of pedaling. The goal is to encourage kids to safely bike or walk to school.

Members of the bicycling club will be out to greet bike-riding students from Crescent Harbor Elementary, Broad View Elementary, North Whidbey Middle School and Oak Harbor High School. They will be handing out buttons and flyers about bike safety to those students.

National Bike to School Day started in May 2012, in conjunction with the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Month. Last year, more than 1,700 schools participated.

This is the first year that the Whidbey Island Bicycle Club and local schools have teamed up to participate in event.

In previous years, the club hosted “Bike to Work Day” events, but found coordinating gathering locations for every participant to be challenging, according to Brad Nelson, a coordinator for the event.

“We had a club meeting, and I mentioned that we could … focus this year on Bike to School Day and recognizing the kids that bike to school,” Nelson said.

Because this is the first year that the club is holding these events, Nelson said that resources were limited, and members of the club will only be at the schools that are officially participating. However, he hopes that next year the event will grow.

“It’s definitely with the goal of kind of doing the Bike to School Day district wide,” he said.

This year is “like a pilot program,” said Nelson, and the club is using it to try and figure out the best ways to coordinate these events with the schools and getting enough people to hand out buttons at the schools.

“We actually have a large number of students who cycle to school everyday,” said Dwight Lundstrom, principal of Oak Harbor High School.

Lundstrom, a member of the bicycle Club, said that many members of the club have children attending the high school, as well.

Kate Schreck, principal for Crescent Harbor Elementary School, said that participation next year will depend on how well the event goes this year.

“I’ve really been pleased with the support for our community partner,” Schreck said of Nelson. “He’s been really energetic about helping to promote kids riding bikes to school.”

To support the event, Schreck said the school district has been providing students with bike safety tips.

“We think it’s great because it’s a way to support our kids having healthy habits,” said Schreck. “So we’re thankful for the opportunity.”


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