The energy was contagious at Bryant Elementary this morning as dozens of students, accompanied by a police escort, parents, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and Cascade staff, biked to school.
After meeting for coffee and donuts at Top Pot Doughnut on 35th Avenue NE, the bike parade made a one-mile trek south to Bryant Elementary, which together with its Northeast Seattle community has been working for many years to create an environment where it is safe, welcoming and fun to bike to school.
“Bryant is not alone,” said Julie Salanthé, Cascade’s Education Director. “There is a growing movement and interest in supporting our kids in getting to school under their own power.”
“Today is about a shared vision for our community –a vision that people of every age and ability feel safe and confident enough to ride to school and to ride in their neighborhoods,” continued Salanthé. “Cascade’s mission is “creating a better community through bicycling” but this isn’t just our mission. It’s a shared idea about our community that we all work on together, that we all participate in.”
Superintendent Banda also spoke of the importance of making it safe and fun for students to bike to school.
“In 1969, nearly half of the school-age children [in Seattle] walked or biked to school,” stated Superintendent Banda. “We need to get back to that number.”
“Today, fewer than 15 percent of kids walk and bike. Our children are less active, less independent, and less healthy, said Banda. “Research shows that kids riding or walking to school perform better in school on tasks involving concentration as compared to kids who are driven —so we need encourage more of this.”
Hoping to make walking or biking to school the first choice for families as they choose their daily transportation, Banda called on the Seattle community to make it safer for kids to get to school, by reducing the traffic chaos and conflicts near our schools each morning and afternoon. (View Banda’s full speech here.)
As many rallied at Bryant Elementary, many more were participating in dozens of events happening throughout the city. We estimate that about 3,500 kids participated in Bike to School Day events today, some trying to ride for the first time: