Schools across Metro Vancouver are recognizing the impacts of active travel on students’ health, academic performance, and safety in school zones. From May 27-31, 120+ elementary and middle schools will hold school-wide celebrations encouraging students and their families to leave their cars at home as part of Bike to School Week. The 2019 event is sponsored by TransLink, the Province of BC and BCAA.
Oliver, a 7-year-old student from North Vancouver, has been riding and walking to school with his family since Kindergarten. His parents say that using active travel has resulted in opportunities to teach age-appropriate road safety skills and has allowed them to build new social connections in their neighbourhood. “Oliver would never set off without his helmet, and he’s street smart – he knows to watch for car doors swinging open, or cars pulling out; and how to navigate junctions” says Oliver’s mother. She adds, “there’s a lovely social aspect to bumping into other kids along the way”.
Their local school has made it easier for them to choose a safe route by providing maps that highlight suggested travel routes based on traffic volumes and safe infrastructure. Oliver’s family lives a few blocks away from their school, and their route includes a long laneway that allows for some play along the way. “In the lane, Oliver rides ahead so he can circle back to get more riding in – we call it ‘double biking’.”
In addition, Oliver’s school celebrates Bike to School Week annually. Parents play a big role in planning the event. “The PAC [creates] a party atmosphere around Bike to School week – with morning dance parties, free fruit and energy bars, bike decorating supplies and they partner with a local bike shop to offer free bike tune-ups and advice.”
Oliver’s family is also supported to use active travel to get to school on the work front. Stephanie’s employer, BCAA has a wellness program that provides healthy lifestyle credits that Stephanie uses to purchase helmets and other bike safety accessories for the family.
HUB Cycling began organizing Bike to School Week in Metro Vancouver in 2013, and since then there has been huge growth in the number of schools supporting and encouraging active travel. “Ensuring that families know about the safest routes to school and new infrastructure being built in school areas is just one of the ways that schools and municipal staff are working together to make biking to school an attractive choice for families across Metro Vancouver” says Jel Kocmaruk, Bike to School Week Coordinator.
HUB Cycling encourages parents to find out if their child’s school is registered in Bike to School Week by visiting the event website bikehub.ca/btsw. Families can get involved by choosing active travel for their trips to school May 27-31. For unregistered schools – it’s not too late! Parents, teachers and administrators can register their school until May 21st and receive a package in the mail.
As part of Bike to School Week this year, HUB Cycling is also encouraging students to get creative and film a short video about biking, walking, or rolling to school. The inaugural student video contest, Bike Reels, runs until June 2nd, and is open to Metro Van students 18 and under. Winning videos will be awarded cash prizes, and the top entry will also be screened at HUB’s Bike Shorts film fest in November.
About Bike to School Week
Event Date: May 27 – 31, 2019
Bike to School Week is a fun, free, week-long celebration for students of all ages and abilities. Schools across Metro Vancouver take part by biking to and from school and participating in activities and events at school. HUB Cycling offers support such as resources and event ideas, prizes for participating schools, and Bike to School Week packages to make tracking rides easy!
Over 100 schools have already registered to participate, and there is still time to get involved. It is anticipated that together, students will take over 23,000 trips to and from school during the week.
Bike to School Week also takes place across BC, and schools outside Metro Vancouver take part through Go By Bike BC.
About Bike Reels: Student Video Contest
Contest Deadline: June 2nd, 2019
Students must be 18 and under, and videos must be 60-90 sec in length. More information about the Bike Reels video contest is available at bikehub.ca/bikereels.
About HUB Cycling:
HUB Cycling is a charitable not for profit that has spent over 21 years removing barriers to cycling in Metro Vancouver while cultivating the health, environmental, and economic benefits that active transportation can bring. HUB Cycling has educated thousands of people, motivated thousands more, and championed improvements that #ungapthemap to create a connected cycling network. HUB Cycling’s mission is to get more people cycling more often. For more information, visit bikehub.ca.