Is there a biking equivalent of riding a wave? Because it sure feels like we’ve caught a big one.
Today and throughout the month of May, thousands of school children across the country will be biking to school as part of the second annual National Bike to School Day.
Families in more than 1,400 communities --from Anchorage, Alaska, and Zephyrhills, Florida, to Wahiawa, Hawaii, and Lewiston, Maine-- will take part in the celebration. You can see who’s biking this year at www.walkbiketoschool.org. And it’s not just the number of events; the buzz around Bike to School Day is also exciting.
Today, I was able to participate in an awesome event in Washington, DC's Lincoln Park. Despite a dreary forecast of rain, more than 100 students came out to bike to school together. Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez even joined us to help encourage our many bike trains to enjoy a safe ride to school.
Some schools will focus on safety—bike rodeos, bike helmet fittings (many around the country sponsored by Safe Kids Worldwide, one of our Bike to School Day partner organizations) and bicycling safety instruction are common activities at Bike to School events nationwide. To further the safety connections, Bike to School Day is just one of three international events taking place in May—United Nations Global Road Safety Week and Global Youth Traffic Safety Month—all working to improve safety for young people.
And all schools will focus on fun. Prizes, raffles, and poster contests. Nutrition bars, bike blenders, and healthy snacks. Pep rallies, carnival games, stickers, and tattoos. Trail openings and ribbon cuttings. From coast to coast, we're making sure that young students see biking to school as a fun way to start their day. Kids will be pedaling, feeling the wind in their faces, and experiencing the world around them.
Events like these don’t just happen. The National Center for Safe Routes to School, which coordinates Bike to School Day as well as International Walk to School Day every October, knows first hand that this event is made possible by almost as many thousands of parents, teachers, police officers, school administrators, and others as there are children riding.
Bike to School Day is also made possible by supportive elected officials and other community leaders.
Secretary Ray LaHood has been a tireless advocate for walking and biking during his tenure. Today the youth at the Lincoln Park event joined me in sending a special thank you to Secretary LaHood for his service and leadership.
In March, Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute told the National Bike Summit that all big societal trends are favoring bicycling; that they, the bicycle advocates of America, are at this moment essentially riding a tremendous bicycle wave. If the success of our second annual Bike to School Day is any indication, I’d say Mr. Katz is onto something.