Portland School Casts Off Bike Ban, Embraces Cycling

A "bike fairy" greets children at the Beach School, as part of its promotion of healthy commuting. Photo: ##http://bikeportland.org/2010/06/01/once-prohibited-biking-now-a-big-part-of-beach-school-34222##Bike Portland##

The Beach School in north Portland, Oregon is showing how safe routes to school programs can pay off by encouraging healthier habits for children. Many students here travel to school by bike train — a cluster of cyclists, supervised by adult riders. Cycling and walking to school is promoted by a special program, supported by school administrators, parents and local bicycle advocates.

The Beach School’s campaign is all the more impressive considering that just a few years ago school administrators had banned biking altogether. Thanks to the hard work of parents, community members and the school’s principal, Tom Breuckman, the Beach School is now a model of healthy school commuting, writes Jonathan Maus at Network blog Bike Portland:

Before the first day of school last Tuesday, Breuckman sent a letter to all Beach families that made it crystal clear where he (and the school) stands on transportation. Under the heading, “When You Bring Your Child To School”, the letter listed four recommendations. “Walk or bike to school or ride public transit, as frequently as possible” was the first recommendation, followed by carpooling with neighbors, and then “Stop a few blocks from school and walk from there.”

This is an amazingly strong endorsement of biking and walking from a public school principal.

In speaking with Maus, Breuckman said the biggest payoff has been a closer, more cohesive school community:

“There’s no doubt about it that it’s wonderful for childhood obesity, it’s wonderful for having kids a little more awake before they come to class; but for me, watching the community come in, watching the bike trains roll in together, those were fabulous, that’s what makes a school something people will remember.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: Broken Sidewalk reports that metropolitan Louisville is adding more than 600 bike parking spaces. The Tulsa Transportation Examiner provides details on the trial of Tausha Borland, a motorist who killed two bicyclists while under the influence of alcohol in the Tulsa area. And the Active Transportation Alliance Town Square discusses West Vancouver’s unusual traffic calming method: a painting of a young girl playing in the roadway.

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