Plan for one of the best school days of the year with these Bike to School Day tips.
One exciting tradition we look forward to every year is Bike to School Day put on by our school. When we did it for the first time, I didn’t realize what an event it was! There was a sea of families on bikes headed toward school and the kids had such a blast. All of the kids said it was the best day ever!
Time of Year
Every school district does it differently, but ours does a Walk to School Day in the fall and a Bike to School Day in the spring. It’s usually close to the beginning of the year and end of the year so there is plenty of daylight and the weather is usually reliable. National Bike To School Day is held on the third Friday in May each year but your district may schedule differently.
Once the school announces the date, you can start to plan for it. Plan to work from home that day or go in later. Think about how you’ll get the bikes home. You will probably ride back home after your child gets to school. Will you ride back to school in the afternoon and ride home together? You will have to notify the school that your child won’t be riding the bus home or however he or she usually gets home. Will you go back and pick the bike up? Make sure you have space in your car and that your child knows they won’t be riding bikes home.
Coordinate With Neighbors
Our neighbors are good about planning to meet at one person’s house for donuts, coffee, and juice. We have changed up whose house we meet at but it’s usually someone who is on the way. In the past, we’ve had a set up of a cute table and stand of goodies for a fun pit stop. Then when it’s Go Time, we all ride together in a big group. There’s always a ton of people headed towards the school and we just follow the crowd, but if you don’t have this situation I’d map out the route beforehand. Pick the route with the fewest and safest crossings or choose trails rather than main roads if possible.
Set a Schedule and Ground Rules
We usually overestimate how long it takes to ride to school. Partly because the kids are so excited and ride faster than I’d like them to! So don’t leave too early! If you have a younger sibling who is coming along, they will likely be going much slower than the older sibling.
Make sure to have a conversation with your children to either stay next to you, or at least not to cross major streets without an adult. In my experience all of the boys take off together and ride really fast..
Prepare Your Bikes
Prepare for your big day by making sure your tires are pumped and you have all of your bike helmets ready. Attach fun bells or streamers for extra flair!
Trailers for Siblings
It’s a whole family affair, so if you have a younger sibling they can either be pulled behind in a bike trailer or a tag along behind your bike. If you’re in the market for a trailer of some sort to pull a younger child, there are a few different options. A typical bike trailer attaches to the back of an adult bike and can hold two to three small children. Ours has a five-point harness and a mesh screen or clear cover option depending on weather. This is a good option for very small children.
The next step up is an attachment to the back of an adult bike with a wide seat, handrails, and optional pedals. We recently acquired a Weehoo from the marketplace with a seat that attaches to the back of an adult bike which is perfect for our four year old. There are also tag-a-long attachments which basically makes a tandem bike with a small bike attaching behind an adult bike. The seats are standard bike seats and they do have to hold on the whole time and pedal.
Walk to School
For our fall Walk to School Day, our neighborhood has collectively decided to just all ride our bikes. We live just a little too far to walk but I’m sure some of the older kids did it. You could even do scooters and skateboards. If you do walk, make sure you give yourself enough time to get to school.
The great thing about these events is that so many members of the community are out and the kids get so excited. There is usually increased police presence at crossings so it feels quite safe. It all happens so fast and it’s only about an hour of your morning, but the kids think it’s the most amazing thing. They ask if it can be Bike to School Day everyday! Continue the family and friend bike rides at these favorite Indy area bike friendly trails.