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Take the Walk + Bike Challenge to Your School!

2289995925_40f4d85cf6_mWe know that all of the talks of bike and the Portland bike culture can be a bit alienating for some, but here's an opportunity to take the baby steps needed to bike and walk.  Need a little inspiration?  Sponsored by the BTA:

Oregon Walk + Bike to School has an exciting event happening in May. For the first time ever, we are extending the spirit of Walk + Bike Day into an entire month! In the style of the BTA's successful Bike Commute Challenge, all over the Portland area elementary students will be challenged to walk or bike to school as much as they can over the month of May. Once a week, a school champion will gather student scorecards and find out who's walking and biking! 

This event can be as robust or as simple as suits your school. Oregon Walk + Bike provides: posters, small incentive items, student scorecards, and tips on making your event successful.  Every student that walks or bikes at each registered school is eligible for raffle prizes. The winning school will receive a free class of the BTA's Award-Winning Bicycle Safety Education curriculum in the fall of 2008 (up to 32 students).

Not an experienced biker? No worries.  Read about some of the common barriers for parents and ideas for overcoming them.  You may not think this is your thing, but it can be!

Jump Right In!  If you are interested in seeing Walk + Bike Challenge Month at your school or learning more about the event, contact Lillian Karabaic at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. Or just jump right in and sign your school up now!  Wonder if your school is already participating?  It's easy to find out by checking the list of participating schools.

The PSU Challenge:
Not only will we find out what schools are walking and biking the most in Portland, but all the elementary schools will take on another group of students: Portland State University. For the whole month, PSU students will try to walk and bike more than all the elementary students in Portland. Who will win? Only time will tell. In June, we're throwing a party at PSU where we'll announce the schools and students that walked or biked the most, hold a drawing for prizes, have slow bike races, and have other fun events!

Comments

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This is very interesting to me. We live approximately 20 blocks from our elementary school and have to cross at least one busy street. My eight-year-old can't go alone. What have parents found to work best (and what distances seem reasonable for an 8-year-old)? Should I walk while she rides? I don't have a bike now, but suppose I could get one if that works out better. We definitely need to get better at this. What's the best system/routine for you? Any input/advice for beginners would be welcome!

I'm really excited about the Bike & Walk Challenge. Some things that I recently found out that make it accessible for lots of families:

- Not just public schools are eligible, they are encouraging participation form private schools, preschools, public alternative schools like charter schools.

- You get a "point" for walking, biking, or taking the bus.

- Even if you're the only family at your school participating, you can still sign up!

- There is a kick-off event, a post-month celebration, and a series of family workshops planned throughout the month: http://www.walknbike.org/site/chamonthevents.html

- There are 25 schools signed up so far: http://www.walknbike.org/site/signedupschools.html . Sign yours up today!

Shari: I find this is new territory for us as well since we've taken off the training wheels. I've found my 5 year old bikes far too quickly for my walking pace. It is more equal if I run, or even bike alongside him. I definitely suggest getting a bike. That way, you can also teach her safe biking habits as well. When I let him bike on his own, we typically stick to sidewalks or neighborhood streets since he is quite a distracted kid on two wheels. Good luck, and let us know how it goes. We could all use a bit of encouragement.

I just signed up our preschool, it's my first official PTA type of job to be the school's coordinator for this event! Out of about 10 families in our school, I think probably 3-4 of us will participate enthusiastically since we walk or bike many days already, but hopefully we can squeeze a few to join us for the month. One of the things that I learned while reading up on the event, is that if you use public transportation for part of the trip that will count too, as well as any walking/biking that you do with your family instead of driving during the month of May. So, there are a few families in our school who just live too far to walk or bike, but hopefully we can still have them participate by keeping track of what they are doing on the weekends to cut down on driving to the store, library, park, etc.

Shari:
On biking with a new 2-wheel biker - like Hau, I recommend being on some kind of transit for yourself because walking pace is a bit too slow for the biking kid. I have old rollerblades, and so I will skate behind my daughter on the sidewalk. I have also jogged alongside or scootered on her Razor alongside. The 20 blocks seems doable for a kid, but allow tons of time!

Leah:
Yes, the great thing about this challenge is that you can take transit too and get credit. Glad you signed your preschool up!

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