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Safe Biking at School

BCM Scholarship Available for the 3rd Annual National Youth Bike Summit!

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts, Safe Biking at School

 

Let your bicycle-loving high school and college friends know that New York City is the place to be from February 15-17, 2013 for the 3rd Annual National Youth Bike Summit.  This year, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine is offering a scholarship to help ensure that youth voices from Maine are present and accounted for. Apply now for the scholarship!

The scholarship the Bicycle Coalition of Maine is offering is for either:

  • One high school student and one parent/adult chaperone to attend the Summit (total of $575), or 
  • Two college students to attend (total of $575).

The deadline for this application is January 24.  If you’re interested in the Youth Bike Summit 2013 scholarship, please apply now for the scholarship!

The Youth Bike Summit is a three day gathering geared toward youth, bicycles, education, and advocacy. This national conference aims to bring people from different disciplines to explore, network, and learn how bicycling can be a legitimate and safe form of transportation for today’s youth. With this mission in mind, the Youth Bike Summit offers a dynamic inter-generational exchange through educational workshops and
panel discussions that are both interactive and practical.

The Youth Bike Summit also provides tools and information on fundraising and best practices for schools that wish to incorporate bikes into the physical fabric of the learning environment.  Last year, Maine Safe Routes to School Program and Bicycle Coalition of Maine staff attended the Summit and it was a fabulous experience for youth and adult advocates alike!

Learn more about the Youth Bike Summit and register here.  You can also get a sense for the event with this short & sweet video of last year’s Youth Bike Summit by Streetfilms. 


Whether you apply for the scholarship or not, don’t hesitate to get yourself, local youth, and anyone else from your community who is building and/or exploring youth bike programming to the Summit! And please let us know if you’re going, in case there are carpooling opportunities from Maine.  For more information or to coordinate transportation, please contact Sarah Cushman.

Safe Routes to School Profile – Mary Booth

By | Safe Biking at School

 

As an active proponent of the After-School Bike Club at Mt Ararat Middle School for many years, Mary Booth, school health coordinator for MSAD 75 (communities of Topsham, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, and Harpswell), has championed other Safe Routes to School and Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Education programs as well, such as doing Walkability Audits and organizing Walk to School Days.  So it came as no surprise to us that the American School Health Association named Booth the 2012 School Health Coordinator of the Year at its national conference in San Antonio, Texas last month!

 We wanted the BCM community-at-large to know about Mary’s recent honor, and why she chooses to embrace the activities promoted and supported by the Maine Safe Routes to School Program and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. 

Recently, Maine Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program Manager, Darcy Whittemore, had a chance to talk with Mary about her work on these important and healthy programs. 

 

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Darcy: How did you become involved with Safe Routes to School?

Mary: As a School Health Coordinator, it is my role to assess various health programs, projects, and activities, and determine whether or not they are a good fit for our School District based on current student needs and integration with other health initiatives in progress.  SRTS staff initially assisted our District with an audit of the communities around all our schools to determine potential expansion of walking routes to school.  Upon completion of the audit, MSAD 75 was able to use models from SRTS to run a few Walking School Bus events.  Because so many of our schools are not in a safe walking zone, we looked at other SRTS programs and decided to promote an After School Bike Club.  In addition to increasing physical activity for our students, promotion of the Bike Club met many of our District goals.  We were able to work with community volunteers from the Merrymeeting Wheelers; provide student mentors from Bowdoin College, and run the club with trained bicycle instructors from the Bike Coalition of Maine.  

 

Darcy: Why is it important for Safe Routes to School to do what we do?

Mary: There are several dimensions to health that keep us all whole and well.  Each day schools in Maine are faced with a multitude of health issues from food insecurity, bullying, substance abuse, depression, and lack of daily physical activity.  As a Health Coordinator, it is important to be able to find programs such as the ones offered by SRTS that are easy to implement and help support targeted outcomes of other initiatives being conducted.  In MSAD 75, we were able to implement the After School Bike Club, which provides physical activity, but also provides a mentoring component for our students.

 

Darcy: What is your favorite part of Safe Routes to School?

Mary: Whenever students are engaged in physical activities that they like, there is a sense of excitement and joy.  I think everyone likes to “play” but for many reasons they play less and less as they grow up.  All the work done behind the scene to get ready to run a successful Walking Program or Bike Club is worth it when you see the students anticipating the activity.  Anxiety and stress are forgotten as students begin start walking or pedaling.  It is a pleasure to watch.

 

Darcy: Why is the after-school bike club a valuable program?  and should other schools start after-school bike clubs?

Mary: The After School Bike Club is a fun program that gets kiddos out and moving.  The physical activity is incredibly valuable but the other value of the club is the educational component.  Today there are many adults who do not have bike skills and allow their children to ride bikes without a helmet, on the wrong side of the road, and without the necessary knowledge to stay safe when riding near cars.  With the After School Bike Clubs, students learn how to do the “ABC” bike check (air in the tires, brakes working, and chain in good condition) before they take off on any ride.  They learn how to wear their helmet properly.  They learn the rules of road riding so they can be safe.  In my opinion, these are all skills everyone should know in the event they ride a bike.

 

Darcy: Why do you love to ride a bike?

Mary: I have very fond memories of being an adolescent and using my bike to get around.  My parents bought me a new ten speed for my 8th grade graduation.  I rode that bike everywhere – to my friend’s camps in the summer, to my first job, and eventually on long bike treks with friends to New Hampshire.  Today, I still like to ride my bike with my family, although they are much faster than I am.

 

Darcy: What is your lifelong biking ambition? 

Mary:  I don’t think I have a “Bike Bucket List” but I do like visiting other places in the country that have bike paths and sightseeing along the path when possible. 

 

Darcy: If you could ride with one person, who would it be?

Mary: My favorite bike-buddy is my husband.  He is a much better rider than I am but when he rides with me he keeps my pace.  When we are in areas where we can ride side by side, we are able to have nice conversations.  It is great quality time together.

 

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Editor’s Note:

The Maine Department of Transportation has contracted with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine to assist in the development and implementation of its Safe Routes to School program. This federally-funded initiative works with communities statewide to encourage more children to walk and bike to school and after school activities, and to improve safety for students on their daily commute.  During the past year, biking and walking activities involved more than 10,000 Maine school children in over 75 different schools.

 

Coalition Takes Part in Bike-a-Palooza

By | Coalition News, Events, Safe Biking at School

 

This article originally appeared in the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal

Bike-a-palooza is warm-up for Dempsey Challenge 

 
Mark LaFlamme, Staff Writer
Lewiston-Auburn | Thursday, October 11, 2012

AUBURN — It’s a crazy world and things seem to change by the minute, but there’s one thing you can always count on: children and bikes.

 

AMBER WATERMAN/SUN JOURNAL.  Fast Freddie Rodriguez, left, follows closely behind Beryle Martin as she helps Mia Arvelo, 5, of South Portland navigate a curved course at the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA in Auburn on Thursday evening.
 

Bike-a-Palooza was a warm-up to the Dempsey Challenge, three days of bike rides, walks and runs to raise money for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing, beginning Friday. The event was designed to teach children bike safety and the rules of the road. 

They were a big part of the Dempsey Challenge warm-up Thursday when 40 kids got together at the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA with a legend in the world of bicycles.

Fast Freddy Rodriguez was on hand to teach the kids biking safety and to stress the joy of riding.  “Cycling,” said Rodriguez, who came from Berkeley, Calif., for this weekend’s Dempsey Challenge, “is something you can do all of your life.”  Like he had to tell the kids.

Wearing helmets that they got to take home, the third- through sixth-graders looked right at home on borrowed bikes in the YMCA gymnasium. They rode obstacle courses and participated in races during which the slowest rider was declared the winner.

 

AMBER WATERMAN/SUN JOURNAL. Fast Freddie Rodriguez participates alongside children as they see who can cross the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA gym in the slowest time Thursday evening during Bike-a-Palooza.  

 

 

 

“I’ve been riding bikes my whole life,” said one fourth-grader as he wheeled across the gym.

Rodriguez has participated seven times in the Tour de France. He competes in races all over the U.S. and Europe. To anyone in the world of cycling, he’s a star.

“This guy’s job is to ride a bike every day,” said Jim Tasse, education director for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. “How cool is that?”

 

 AMBER WATERMAN/SUN JOURNAL.  Maine Cycling Club member Dan Cake helps Katy Kimble steady her bike as they cross the gym floor at the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA during Bike-A-Palooza on Thursday. The first 75 children who registered received a free Specialized helmet and a goodie bag.

 

 
 
 

 

 

Mia Arvelo, a 5-year-old on a pink bike, almost ran into trouble a few times as she mugged for the cameras while breezing across the gym. She stayed upright, though, because she’s a kid and kids just know how to ride.

The bicycles, 25 of them, will be given to local groups and donated to needy children.

Tess Caldwell, fundraising coordinator for the three-day Dempsey Challenge — a fundraiser for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing that begins Friday — took to high ground on a row of bleachers and watched the children ride. These children, she mused, might grow up to be active participants in the annual challenge, which this year so far has drawn more than 4,000 registered participants.

Of course, it never hurts to have stars like Patrick Dempsey and Fast Freddy chipping in.

“They both have such passion for this,” Caldwell said.

She said a few more things about the event, but like most others, after a while she became mesmerized by all those kids whizzing by on all those bikes.

“This,” she said, “is just really cool.”

mlaflamme@sunjournal.com

Portland Press Herald – More Walk & Bike to School Day

By | Coalition News, Safe Biking at School

 

This article originally appeared on PressHerald.com

Maine students join ‘Walk to School’ program

Some parents walk or ride bikes with their children as part of an international celebration.

October 5, 2012 | By Tom Bell tbell@mainetoday.com Staff Writer

PORTLAND – When Sandra Gorsuch-Plummer arrived at Lyseth Elementary School five years ago after working in the Scarborough school system, she was surprised to see so many children walking and riding their bicycles to school.

“It was almost like taking a step back in time,” said Gorsuch-Plummer, the school’s assistant principal. “It was really amazing to see little kindergartners being picked up by their older brothers and sisters and being walked home from school.”

On Friday, to celebrate International Walk to School Day, the students at Lyseth ramped up their ambulatory efforts. More than half of the school’s 525 students walked or rode bikes to school — 50 to 100 more than usual.

Children begged their parents to walk or ride bicycles to school with them, said Sheila Sullivan, a parent who organized the effort.

“There were big smiles all the way around,” she said.

Schools around Maine participated in the program, which originated in 1997. Organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America, it was initially called Walk Our Children to School Day.

The event became international in 2000, when the United Kingdom and Canada joined for the first International Walk to School Day.

In 1969, about 90 percent of children who lived within a mile of school walked or rode bikes to class, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2004, just 48 percent walked or rode bikes at least one day a week.

Advocates who are concerned about childhood obesity say that children increasingly are adopting the car-commuting lifestyle of their parents.

They say communities must do more to encourage children to walk to school, such as making sure that there are safe walking routes and that new schools are built within walking distance of dense neighborhoods.

Childhood obesity is one of the costs of sprawl, said Nancy Smith of GrowSmart Maine, an advocacy group that seeks to overturn state and local policies that promote sprawling development.

“Having a walk-to-school day is a way to remind people that this used to be normal, and we would be healthier if we did more of it,” she said.

While Portland has dense urban neighborhoods, it also had busy arterial roads that are intimidating, like Washington Avenue and Allen Avenue Extension, both of which pose barriers for children who want to walk or ride bikes to Lyseth Elementary. The city needs to find ways to help children feel safe crossing those roads, Sullivan said.

It’s not just about being healthy. Walking to school alone or with a sibling helps children mature, Gorsuch-Plummer said.

“You are developing independence. You are developing responsibility.” 

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: tbell@pressherald.com

Portland Press Herald – Walk & Bike to School Day

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts, Safe Biking at School
 
This article originally appeared on PressHerald.com and is written by one of our favorite writers, Karen Beaudoin.  Check out her regular column here.
 

Caution: Kids biking to school Wednesday

 
Tuesday October 02, 2012 | 02:07 PM

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine does plenty of good for cyclists in the state and on Wednesday morning commuters will see just one of the ways the organization gets kids interested in traveling on two wheels.

Oct. 3 is International Walk & Bike to School Day, an event that more than 150 Maine schools have participated in since 2001.

Many children will get to school via “bike trains” on Wednesday (groups cycling with adult supervision) making it even more crucial than usual for drivers to be alert on the roadways.

“Each year, more and more schools in Maine are involved in encouraging kids to begin the habit of walking and biking safely to school, helping to build these important life skills for an entire generation,” said Nancy Grant, executive director of the BCM.

BCM and the Maine Department of Transportation operate the federally funded Safe Routes to School Program, helping local communities improve safety while encouraging walking and biking.

Click here for a list of communities participating in walk and bike to school events.

L/A Sun Journal – Walk & Bike To School Day

By | Coalition News, Safe Biking at School
 
This article originally appeared on SunJournal.com.
 
 

International Walk & Bike to School Day is Oct. 3

 
Connections | Tuesday, October 2, 2012

AUGUSTA — Hundreds of Maine children will walk or bike to school with family members, school staff and volunteers in celebration of International Walk to School Day, Wednesday, Oct. 3. Community members and school staff join together to host festive walk and bike to school events across the state throughout October, which is International Walk and Bike to School Month, and some schools will continue holding events throughout the fall.

A number of students head to school via “walking school buses” (children walking in groups under adult supervision) and others via “bike trains” (groups bicycling under adult supervision). Participating schools are located from York to Fort Kent and Lincoln to Kingfield, as well as many points in between.

“Each year, more and more schools in Maine are involved in encouraging kids to begin the habit of walking and biking safely to school, helping to build these important life skills for an entire generation,” said Nancy Grant, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. The U.S. public health initiative Healthy People 2020 recognizes walking and bicycling to school as an opportunity to increase physical activity among children and adolescents five to fifteen years of age.

Maine’s federally funded Safe Routes to School Program — a program of the Maine Department of Transportation, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and communities throughout the state — supports local efforts to improve safety and increase walking and bicycling to school. In addition, many schools participate in presentations from the Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Program — available at no-cost to all interested schools. These programs have been recognized as national models for keeping children safe from traffic dangers while walking and bicycling to school.

Since Maine’s program began in 2001, more than 150 schools have become involved. Using federal funds, more than 50 communities have been approved for infrastructure improvements to make walking and biking safer near schools.

The program has three regional encouragement and planning coordinators: Darcy Whittemore (saferoutes@BikeMaine.org) in the central part of the state, Sarah Cushman (sarah@sarahcushman.com) in southern Maine and Jim Fisher (jfisher@hcpcme.org) in eastern Maine. For more information or details about the Oct. 3 events, email them or call 623-4511.

WCSH6 – Walk & Bike To School

By | Coalition News, Safe Biking at School
 
This article originally appeared on WCSH6.com. 
 

Take a walk or bike ride to school today

Submitted by Jackie Ward
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012, 7:30am
 
 

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Waking up 20 minutes earlier than their friends and putting on an extra layer of clothes is all part of the morning routine for kids who walk to school every day.

But they may have a little more company than usual this morning. Today is International Walk to School Day, a chance for kids to get outside and enjoy the fresh air before sitting in classrooms all day. The group Partnership for a Walkable America organized this event and believes we need more walkable communities. For the kids we spoke to who walk to school every day, they said they don’t mind walking at all.

“It feels really good to walk in the morning, because it gives me a chance to wake up, where as just going to class while I’m still half asleep is just awful,” 7th grader Callie Banksmith said. 

“And riding the bus is so loud and everyone is sitting around you yelling,” Maya Farr-Weinfeld, a 7th grader said. 

Schools around the world have organized a walk or bike to school day. Forty countries are participating this year.

Seacost Online – International Walk and Bike to School Day

By | Coalition News, Safe Biking at School
Originally posted on SeacoastOnline.com on October 03, 2012 2:00 AM
 

International Walk and Bike to School Day today

 
October 03, 2012 2:00 AM

 

AUGUSTA — Hundreds of Maine children are walking or biking to school today, with family members, school staff and volunteers, in celebration of International Walk and Bike to School Day.

York is one of the many commuitis across the state that is participating in the annual event. Students from Coastal Ridge Elementary and Village Elementary — Coastal Ridge have walked or biked to school every Friday in September and are doing so again today.

A number of students head to school via “walking school buses” (children walking in groups under adult supervision) and others via “bike trains,” which are groups bicycling under adult supervision.

“Each year, more and more schools in Maine are involved in encouraging kids to begin the habit of walking and biking safely to school, helping to build these important life skills for an entire generation,” said Nancy Grant, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. The U.S. public health initiative Healthy People 2020 recognizes walking and bicycling to school as an opportunity to increase physical activity among children and adolescents five to 15 years of age.

Maine’s federally funded Safe Routes to School Program — a program of the Maine Department of Transportation, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and communities throughout the state — supports local efforts to improve safety and increase walking and bicycling to school. In addition, many schools participate in presentations from the Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Program — available at no-cost to all interested schools. These programs have been recognized as national models for keeping children safe from traffic dangers while walking and bicycling to school.

Since Maine’s program began in 2001, more than 150 schools have become involved. Using federal funds, more than 50 communities have been approved for infrastructure improvements to make walking and biking safer near schools.

“These federally funded safety improvements have been extremely helpful in creating safer pedestrian and bicycle travel around schools in communities throughout the state,” said Dan Stewart, MaineDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager.

Two of the major goals of the Safe Routes to School Program are improved safety and increased physical activity to fight childhood obesity. In addition, Walk and Bike to School programs help to ease traffic congestion, boost academic performance, improve classroom behavior, improve air quality and save school districts money on busing costs.

International Walk & Bike to School Day

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts, Safe Biking at School, Stay Safe

For More Information:

Darcy Whittemore
Central Maine Safe Routes to School Program
saferoutes@BikeMaine.org

Sarah Cushman
Southern Maine 
Safe Routes to School Program
sarah@sarahcushman.com

Jim Fisher
Eastern Maine 
Safe Routes to School Program
jfisher@hcpcme.org

Dan Stewart
Maine Department of Transportation
Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Quality Community Program Manager
dan.stewart@maine.gov
207-624-3252


For Immediate Release

Children Commute to School on Their Own Two Feet on October 3, International Walk & Bike to School Day  

Augusta, ME – 09/27/12 – Hundreds of Maine children will walk or bike to school with family members, school staff and volunteers in celebration of International Walk to School Day, Wednesday, October 3. Community members and school staff join together to host festive walk and bike to school events across the state throughout October, which is International Walk and Bike to School Month, and some schools will continue holding events throughout the fall.

A number of students head to school via “walking school buses” (children walking in groups under adult supervision) and others via “bike trains” (groups bicycling under adult supervision).  Participating schools are located from York to Fort Kent and Lincoln to Kingfield, as well as many points in between.

 “Each year, more and more schools in Maine are involved in encouraging kids to begin the habit of walking and biking safely to school, helping to build these important life skills for an entire generation”, said Nancy Grant, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. The U.S. public health initiative Healthy People 2020 recognizes walking and bicycling to school as an opportunity to increase physical activity among children and adolescents five to fifteen years of age.

Maine’s federally funded Safe Routes to School Program — a program of the Maine Department of Transportation, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and communities throughout the state — supports local efforts to improve safety and increase walking and bicycling to school.  In addition, many schools participate in presentations from the Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Program — available at no-cost to all interested schools. These programs have been recognized as national models for keeping children safe from traffic dangers while walking and bicycling to school.

Since Maine’s program began in 2001, more than 150 schools have become involved.  Using federal funds, more than 50 communities have been approved for infrastructure improvements to make walking and biking safer near schools.

 “These federally funded safety improvements have been extremely helpful in creating safer pedestrian and bicycle travel around schools in communities throughout the state,” said Dan Stewart, MaineDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager.

Two of the major goals of the Safe Routes to School Program are improved safety and increased physical activity to fight childhood obesity.  In addition, Walk and Bike to School programs help to ease traffic congestion, boost academic performance, improve classroom behavior, improve air quality and save school districts money on busing costs.

The program has three regional encouragement and planning coordinators: Darcy Whittemore (saferoutes@BikeMaine.org) in the central part of the state, Sarah Cushman (sarah@sarahcushman.com) in southern Maine, and Jim Fisher (jfisher@hcpcme.org) in eastern Maine.  For more information or details about the October 3rd events, please e-mail them or call 207-623-4511.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has been working since 1992 to make Maine a better place to bicycle.  The coalition advocates for Maine cyclists at the Legislature and in Washington, D.C., teaches bicycle and pedestrian safety to thousands of Maine schoolchildren each year, partners with state agencies on a Share the Road media campaign and serves as a resource on local bicycling issues.  

Editor’s Note: Click here to find a list of communities that are having walk and bike to school events

 

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Kids Bike-A-Palooza!

By | Events, Featured Posts, Safe Biking at School

 

Join the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, the Dempsey Challenge, Positive Tracks and pro cyclist Fast Freddie Rodriguez for Kids Bike-A-Palooza!  We’ll be celebrating bikes, bike skills and bike safety at the Auburn / Lewiston YMCA on Thursday October 11 from 4-5:30pm.  Kids will have the opportunity to learn about helmets, the rules of the road, balance and handling as well as basic technical skills.  As a bonus, all participants will receive a Specialized helmet and Goodie Bag!  For more information, check out our website.