Pedal Power: SP Elementary School Students Bike to School
Southern Pines Elementary students went to school the old-fashioned way Wednesday.
About 24 students in third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes participated in a national bicycling initiative called “Bike to School.” The event was sponsored by the Chapel Hill-based National Center for Safe Routes to School organization, which sponsors a national “Walk to School” event in the fall.
Southern Pines Elementary, on May Street in Southern Pines, was one of 11 schools statewide to participate in the inaugural biking program.
Rynet Oxendine, senior program/special events coordinator with the Southern Pines Recreation and Parks Department, said everything went well during the morning commute.
“The students met at 7:15 a.m. at the Campbell House, where their bikes were tagged, and they were served a breakfast snack,” Oxendine said. “They rode about a mile to school, accompanied by volunteers and with a Southern Pines Police Department escort.”
Parents brought their children’s bicycles to the Campbell House before the event.
Southern Pines Elementary School Principal Marcy Cooper said the morning event was “great.”
“I was able to ride with the group, and a lot of parents went along with their kids as well,” Cooper said. “Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, and it was very organized with the police escort.”
Cooper was one of the last to arrive at the school after assisting 10-year-old Kennedy Petersen with her bicycle chain.
“As we were all starting out, she told me her pedal wouldn’t move, so several of us assisted her in getting her bike going again,” Cooper said.
Kennedy, the daughter of Southern Pines Elementary fourth-grade teacher Yvonne Petersen, said she had fun riding to school.
“After Mr. Jason Blair and Mrs. Cooper helped me get my chain fixed, I had a good time riding to school,” Kennedy said. “I wish I could ride every day, but we live too far away.”
Organizers had originally planned for the students to ride their bikes after school, again with an escort, to the Southern Pines Downtown Park, where they were to observe a police K-9 demonstration and take part in a bicycle identification program, but an afternoon thunderstorm changed their plans.
“We had the bicycle identification program in the school gym because of the rain,” Oxendine said. “Everyone seemed to have a really good time, and we will definitely be doing this program again next year.”
Cooper said the idea for her school to participate came from her affiliation with a town of Southern Pines program.
“I was a part of the bike committee with the town, and one day people from the Southern Pines Recreation Department came to talk about the Bike to School program,” she said. “At first, I was concerned about safety, but after we talked more about the issue I felt like it was something we could do.”
Designed to raise awareness of the benefits of bicycling to school, the event was held in conjunction with the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Month in May.
“A few years ago, we put in a path for the students to use if they and their parents want to walk to school, but at present, we don’t have the bike lanes in place for that kind of a commute,” Cooper said. “The walking paths have been very popular, so hopefully we will one day have bike lanes in place so that parents will feel better about their kids biking to school.”
National Bike to School Day is based on the Walk to School Day model. The National Center for Safe Routes to School website says that Walk to School Day was founded as a way “to bring community leaders and children together to build awareness for communities to be more walkable.”
The Bike to School Day website includes information on events in North Carolina, and also includes tips on helping your child bicycle to school safely. For more information on activities related to biking and walking to school, visit www.walkbiketoschool.org.
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-22479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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