Monday, February 4, 2008

idea for getting kids to bike

From Missoula, MT:
"The Missoula County School District meeting room was full. Parents, students, teachers, volunteers, elected officials and others interested in the safety, health and welfare of children were engaged in dialog. High school students were busy taking notes. Professor Running talked about the effects of climate change and how we could each do our part. He has been a life-long bicycle commuter and continues to ride to work at the University. He shared his personal dilemma; he could not convince his daughters to ride their bikes to Hellgate High School. 'It seems that riding a bike is not cool,' he said."

Professor Running answered questions from the audience. As questions slowed near the end of his speech, a man in the back raised his hand and walked forward, placing his hands on the shoulders of a young lady -- a senior at Sentinel High School. He looked at her name tag and said, 'Gracie, what would it take to get you to ride a bicycle to school tomorrow?' The table erupted with comments from her fellow students -- a new bike, helmet, fancy riding clothes and so on. After a few minutes of loud discussion and deliberation, she looked up at the man and said '$10.00.' He said 'Great!' He then pulled ten dollars from his wallet and handed it to Gracie. He turned to the crowd and said, 'I am willing to give my high school daughter $50.00 per week to ride her bike to school. I will be saving money by doing it."

'Think about this, no second or third car, less insurance, no parking fees, no new tires, and most important to me, no passengers in a vehicle with my child at the wheel. I cannot own and operate a vehicle for $200.00 a month.'


Anonymous said...

The idea of encouraging students to ride to school presents a "chicken/egg conundrum".

You need a cycle-friendly infrastructure if you are going to encourage young people to ride bicycles to school. On the other hand, you need a population of cyclists to justify spending the money to make the town more bike-friendly. Which has to come first, the bikers or the bike facilities?

Pedal on,
Ryan Cooper

kelley said...

Good point, Ryan. I lived in Missoula for 7 years, and the area around Hellgate High is very bike-able. There are still some schools left in Knoxville that are surrounded by neighborhoods, so kids can bike or walk pretty easily. However, our society has become so car-oriented that parents may not even think about that option anymore. There's a program called Safe Routes to School that looks at the areas around schools and comes up with projects that would improve the safety of kids walking to school, like sidewalks, crosswalks, etc. There isn't enough funding for these projects right now, but people can let their elected officials know that this issue is important.