Other Special Events
Many communities choose to have more than one Walk to School Day during the year, and some expand their event to include bicyclists, parents and drivers. "Walk and Roll to School Day" is a popular theme for many but some places choose a separate day to celebrate bicycling including Earth Day, Trail Day, Car Free Day, Bicycle-to-Work Day and Bike Month. Traffic Safety Day, another event theme, provides an opportunity to include education for drivers. See Education for more information on safety days.
Putting It Into Practice: Monthly Walk and Roll to School Days
Mason Elementary, Duluth, GA
When the Safe Routes to School project started at suburban Mason Elementary School, just a handful of the 1,200 students walked to school and only one bicycled. So when the first "Walk and Roll to School Day" was planned, organizers weren't sure the event would be much of a success. Organizers reported that over 100 kids walked with the Walking School Bus, 50 joined the Bicycle Train, lots of parents came out, and the enthusiasm for the now-monthly Walk and Roll to School Days hasn't let up since.
To keep it interesting, each monthly Walk and Roll event at Mason had a special theme. In November, with growing darkness, the theme was "Be Safe, Be Seen." In January it was "A Polar Bear Walk and Roll" to encourage walking and bicycling in cold weather. Children were greeted with hot chocolate and a giant painted polar bear. In February, the theme focused on healthy hearts; in March, kids were encouraged to "Be One Less Car." At the end of the school year, the theme was a retrospective of the year's Walk and Roll events including a picture album and a banner decorated with students' personal reflections on walking and bicycling to school. One fifth grader tearfully lamented moving on to middle school because she would miss these special days.
Organizers reported that the Walk and Roll events at Mason have planted the seeds for daily walking and bicycling. The new bicycle racks are often full, walking and bicycling has become "cool" to do, and the "coolest" kids try to hide their excitement on Walk and Roll Days. "What's the big deal?" they said, "We do this every day!"
Putting It Into Practice: Cycle Saturation Project
St John's Catholic Primary School, Rotherhithe, United Kingdom
St John’s Primary School has taken up bicycling with great enthusiasm as a result of a £20,000 (approximately $34,000) local project funded by Rotherhithe Community Council. The funds have been used for bicycle training, bicycle events and bicycle racks to encourage bicycling to school as an alternative to riding in a car.
Southwark Cyclists (www.southwarkcyclists.org.uk), the project coordinators, selected St John’s school because of the principal’s support and the students’ enthusiasm, 84 percent of whom expressed a desire to bicycle to school. The key reason for the school’s involvement was concerns about the traffic congestion during pick-up and drop-off times.
The Cycle Saturation project, managed on a day-to-day basis by SEA/RENUE (www.sustainable-energy.org.uk), built on the students’ desires to bicycle to school by providing cycle training for all interested students. Cycle Training UK (www.cycletraining.co.uk) provided the instructors to train students, parents and teachers and conducted maintenance workshops to ensure that the students’ bicycles were well-maintained. The project also added new bicycle racks because the existing ones were full every day.
The school also planned a series of events to complement the training, beginning in April with an event that included bicycle games. In June, all children and adults who bicycled that month were invited to a Bicycle Breakfast. The events were capped by a Bike Week bicycling celebration. With the help of Southwark Cyclists, these events were held jointly with a neighboring school where bicycling was already very popular. For the following school year, a bicycle club was planned in order to build on the momentum of the project and ensure that the bicycle racks stay full in the future.