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NYC’s First Bike-to-School-Day Celebration

Today Brooklyn’s William Alexander School MS 51 was the first school in the five boroughs to host a Bike to School Day.   MS 51 celebrated Bike to School Day with the help of the New York City Department of Transportation, Bike New York and Matthew Modine's Bicycle for a Day. Throughout the week Bike New York held workshops to educate the students about bike safety and riding techniques to prepare for this day. There were two escorted rides to MS 51 this morning, one started in Sunset Park and the other in Carroll Gardens. The rides had "pick up" spots along the way where more students joined the biking pool. Return rides were also planned. Hear from students and event organizers in this video wrap-up of the ride.

Photos Below by Robin Urban Smith :

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[music]
Hayes A. Lord: [0:06] 1: Thank you for participating today. [music]
Girl: [0:19] 1: My name is Jasmin Jolly. I am 14 and I am biking to school.
Girl 2: [0:22] I think it is pretty cool that we get to hang out with my friends doing some exercise while getting to school.
Kimala: [0:28] My name is Kimala. I am thirteen years old and I'm biking. I really like biking. It is good for the environment. It is good for your body and stuff. [music]
Hayes A. Lord: [0:39] 1: We have two different routes: one from Sunset Park. It's about four miles. The other one was from [inaudible 00:45] Gardens, which is approximately two miles. The kids that joined us ranged from 7th to 8th graders and we found that everybody is really excited about participating.
Girl: [0:57] 3: Yeah, biking to school is awesome.
Girl: [0:59] 4: I am biking with my friends. It makes a fun like that. [music]
Girl: [1:05] 3: I think it is a great way to get kids to be active. It is not like taking the bus or riding in the car, wasting energy, polluting air. [music]

[cheers] [1:14]

Matthew Modine: [1:22] 1: What a great ride today. Giving the kids an opportunity to ride a bike to school is such a way of giving them a sense of freedom and liberation. It is good for their health and good for their minds and good for their sense of awareness and consciousness.
Hayes A. Lord: [1:36] 1: We saw this as an opportunity to work with the younger generation of potential cyclists so they can learn skills and techniques in order to ride their bike in traffic.
Rich Conroy: [1:47] 1: So what we did today is invite some New York staff, rode with the kids when we gave them a few pointers here and there, but mostly the kids did great. [1:56] I think it is important to do things like this because a lot of parents, a lot of school administrators, a lot people who don't know cycling very well think it is too dangerous to be a cyclist in New York City. What we want to show is that it is possible to ride a bike even if you are a middle school kid, to ride your bike to school.
Lenore Berner: [2:18] 2: We were really excited to get involved with Back to School Day. We have a lot of teachers and students who want to ride their bikes. We asked DOT to give us more bike racks and then we realized this was going to be an event that a lot of students would rally around. I hope we get to do it every year. Perhaps some kick-off event like this will have kids riding bikes to school more often, not just when we have an event. [music]

[2:41]



Elizabeth Press is a Filmmaker for Streetfilms. She joined Streetfilms in 2007 to focus her video work on advocating for better biking, walking and mass transit.

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  • LOLcat

    Did they get a permit?

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/judge-rules-against-cyclists/

    Shout out to my little sister and dad who appear in the video!

  • Larry Littlefield

    Great event. I hope it spreads.

  • Where’s Marty?

    Where was publicity hog Marty Markowitz? (Somebody had to say it.) Does he ever let anything in his boro get by without an appearance?

  • Glenn

    I biked to school almost everyday from Sixth to Eighth grade and parked it at a friend's house near the school. It was all uphill every morning and then a blissful glide home everyday. I felt independent and mobile while a lot of my friends were dependent on their parents to drive them around.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/Eric Eric McClure

    Hey, that's terrific! And just a block from my house. Wish I'd know about it beforehand -- I would have joined them. Hope that some of the kids will be inspired to bike everyday, and that we can continue to create bike infrastructure that makes it safe for them to do so.

  • Steve Faust

    I helped out on the afternoon return trip. We all had a good time riding.

    If the school can create some secure bike parking, I think some of these kids are ready and willing to cycle every day. Not everyone has a friend's house nearby like Glen to park. If the bike has been stolen or vandalized by 3:00 pm, it won't matter how good the street traffic has become or how competent a rider the kid is. Secure parking is a critical path item.

    Brooklyn Tech converted a ground floor restroom into a teachers bike parking room. When my son attended Tech, they gave him a key and he could bike in every day. This is the only public school I know of that has any kind of indoor secure bike parking.

  • Alan Mindel

    As the proud father of one of the MS 51 bikers I say bravo to the people that put this event together. The energy of those involved definitely inspired the kids. Great job DOT

  • Severin

    That was a cute video, I am glad young kids get to experience cycling to school.

  • Akshaya

    WOW!!! i wish we too could do something like that it would be fun!!!!!!

  • LOLcat

    @Steve

    There is covered, secure bike parking at PS321. You can see it from the street. I assume that it's only for teachers.

    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Park+Slope,+New+York&ll=40.671891,-73.977921&spn=0,0.013937&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=40.671833,-73.977803&panoid=9uat4-0WZWHpTKXkyKfMXA&cbp=12,234.62,,1,6.6

  • gecko

    Great gobs of happiness!

    It's long overdue that people and especially kids learn to take control of their own lives instead of waiting for someone out there to take care of it for them.

    In this case transportation and the streets must be made safe so that people can travel on their own and not have to fight off big oil and its devastating affects every step of the way.

    A great lesson also!

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/Green_Idea_Factory Todd Edelman

    Hooray! And double the width of those bike lanes (at least) so they can ride two abreast with their friends! Plus 2Omph speed limit during school egress hours...

  • http://www.blog.cyclosity.com Liam

    Beacon and Hunter College High School have indoor parking. Laguardia also had an official bike to school day a couple years ago, though I guess this is the first DOT sponsored one.

  • http://walkbikejersey.blogspot.com/ Andy B from Jersey

    At first I was thinking, "Hmm. I hope there was some bike-ed for the kids before the ride." Then I saw Rich Conroy pop up and I knew all was well.

    Rich and the folks at Bike New York do some really fantastic work. I'm surprised I haven't seen more of them on Streetsblog or Streetfilms (Hint. Hint).

  • http://mega1e.blogspot.com Eric Wan

    It's important to start young and get the habit going and it lasts for a lifetime.
    I started biking to school since starting high school since I wanted to save $40 on a bus pass every month. I've been doing it since, and am still hooked to cycling everywhere.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The comments by the kids are very, very instructive. They'll bike to school if their friends bike to school. That's the whole value to them.

    In middle school, no one does it because no one does it. If everyone did it, then everyone would do it.

    Probably applies to walking, too.

  • Soapy

    @Andy B from Jersey

    I go to school there, and we did get "bike-ed" a couple of days before; all about bike safety and how to bike safely on the road.

    @LOLcat
    I think what you're thinking of (covered bike rack) at PS321 is actually an extension of the main school building.

    But yeah, I think it was a great idea, and I encourage more people to bike to school!

  • gecko

    There should be no controversy that this be a daily way to get to school and completely integrated with the safe routes to school program.

  • gecko

    This has the capability of being like the desegregation efforts years back as transportation systems based on cars monopolize the ways in which the people of this country -- including children -- can travel by direct endangerment promoting the existing highly devastating structurally violent system.

    Children have the right to travel on their own through their own human skills and resources to school in a safe environment. Not being able to do this is an infringement on their basic human rights.

  • TaSniM H

    I biked to school for the first time in my life, and it was so cool! I started out on the sidewalk with my friend Angela, and it was like MURDER on my back. But then we saw a couple of cyclists on the street and we joined them. I saw a couple of friends from school as well as teachers, and it was so much easier on the street than on the sidewalk. This was so much fun! I hope I get to ride my bike again to school someday. Oh yeah, and another great thing was getting free stuff. Like the stickers, keychains, and the bike bells. Ring-alinggg! =) :) =] :]

  • Cecilia C.

    Biking to school was awesome! I loved it and it was my first time ever! :)

  • martha

    wow i go to that school i think that was a cool event and that ids should ride their bikes more often :) !!!!

  • thomas david

    I am wondering what safety measures city/state politicians have taken to protect the byclist from dangerous motorists out there. I know there are bycyle lanes are marked on major select roadways. But would that be enough? How about careless drivers who don't yield to the pedestrians and bycyclist. I think there should be stricter punishment to protect and promote bycylist and pedestrains.