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Students push pedals in first Bike to School event

Activists said the event helps introduce a generation of young people to bikes as a daily form of transportation.

May 09, 2012|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • A group of R.D. White Elementary School students cross Glenoaks Boulevard on Geneva Sreet in Glendale on Wednesday for the first National Bike to School Day. 30 students, it was estimated, rode their bikes to school, several for the first time.
A group of R.D. White Elementary School students cross… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

The parade of two-wheelers snaking toward R.D. White Elementary School could have stocked a bicycle shop. There were mountain bikes, road bikes and beach cruisers with whitewall tires. Helmeted heads bobbed up and down to the rhythm of the pedals.

It was a scene playing out at schools across the country Wednesday as thousands of students flicked up their kickstands and took to the streets for the first national Bike to School event. Sponsored by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, the ride was modeled after its International Walk to School Day, designed to foster pedestrian safety and healthy lifestyles.

Local cycling activists and parent volunteers chose to pilot the inaugural event at R.D. White, which is leading Glendale Unified in its Safe Routes to School efforts. The roughly 30 student cyclists were joined by a dozen community leaders, parents and Glendale police officers.

“This was the first-time try, and I am hoping it will be four times bigger next year,” said Kara Sergile, an R.D. White parent and champion of the Safe Routes to School mission. With the federal grant to the city, she added ““we will be able to do more education and encouragement over the course of the next school years.”

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R.D. White fifth-grader Harrison Hirsch, 11, rides to school daily with his younger brother. On Wednesday, they were joined by their parents, Megan and Ross Hirsch, local cycling advocates and members of the organization Walk Bike Glendale.

“It is a lot more fun and it is healthy for you,” Harrison said of cycling.

He and his brother have learned how to share the road with vehicles, he added.

“Sometimes they honk at us,” Harrison said. “Hand signals help a lot.”

A generation ago, lots of students rode their bikes to school, cycling activists said. But as lifestyles changed and roads grew increasingly crowded with cars, many parents stopped sending their children out the driveway on two wheels.

Initiatives like the Bike to School event can serve to introduce a generation of young people to bikes as a daily form of transportation, they said.

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