When it is safe, convenient, and fun to walk to neighborhood schools, our children are healthier, our streets are safer for everyone, and our communities thrive. Through Safe Routes to School, our Recycle-A-Bicycle (RAB) program, and National Bike to School Day, we can make our schools more bike-friendly.
Recycle-A-Bicycle (RAB) Program
Recycle-A-Bicycle (RAB) is an educational program for children of all ages that encourages hands-on problem-solving skills; understanding of working with tools; and identification of bicycle parts, mechanics, and functionality. Most importantly, problem-solving skills learned through building a bike will be carried beyond the classroom and into their entire lives.
Students receive a donated bicycle from our community workshop and strip it down, part-by-part. With our instructor's help, they reassemble the bike, making modifications as they go. Students learn bicycle mechanics as we overhaul wheels, bottom brackets, and headsets, take apart chains, and remove and repair brakes and cables—then build it all back up again.
With patience, group participation, and hard work, the students earn the bicycle they built through determination, teamwork, and encouragement of one another, gaining a sense of pride and self-accomplishment.
We learn rules of the road, road safety, riding etiquette, hand signals, and how to plan to travel from place to place on two wheels via bike paths and bicycle infrastructure with a final group ride around their surrounding neighborhoods and local parks. Graduating with a certificate of completion, they receive a set of lights, a lock, and helmet, and are welcome to bike home in a group along with their instructor to gain the experience and fun of independence, travel, and freedom on a bicycle they have built themselves!
Safe Routes to School
Every child deserves a chance at a healthy future. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs aim to give that chance. SRTS programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school. SRTS programs examine conditions around schools and conduct projects and activities that work to improve safety and accessibility as well as reduce traffic and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. As a result, these programs help make bicycling and walking to school safer and more appealing transportation choices thus encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.
What can Safe Routes To School Do For Your Family?
Walking and biking to school are easy ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
Children today are less active than preceding generations and as a result, rates of obesity and obesity-related health problems are increasing. The Center for Disease Control recommends a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise per day for children and adolescents, the majority of which should be moderate aerobic activity such as walking or biking. Following these guidelines can help improve both physical health – by helping to control weight and strengthening bones and muscles – and mental health, improving mood and mental acuity. Exercise can also lead to long-term health benefits later in life.
Studies show that children who walk to school arrive more alert, eager, and ready to learn.
Mounting evidence shows that physical exercise improves brain function as well as emotional and social development. Walking is an effective way to incorporate physical activity into the school day. While research directly linking active transportation to and from school with academic performance is only beginning to be explored, a preliminary study comparing a simulated ride to school with a simulated walk found that youth who engaged in moderate exercise before a cognitive test exhibited lower anxiety levels than those remaining physically idle prior to the same test. Schools provide environments in which children learn and develop both academically and personally and students should be physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for the challenges involved. A healthy body allows us to sustain energy through the day and sleep better at night, thereby strengthening our cognitive processes. Additionally, teachers report lower rates of absenteeism and tardiness in children who walk or bike to school.
Bike to School Day
Each May, thousands of students, families, community partners, and elected officials around the country will celebrate the benefits of biking and walking to school during National Bike to School Day.
Register your school’s event today to be counted among the thousands of schools who participate each year and be entered into drawings for bikes and helmets! Bike to School Day registration is free and open to all schools planning a 2017 event in the United States.
Interested in getting your school involved? Contact Stacy Sauvageau at stacy-at-gobikebuffalo.org.