Minnesota State Bike-to-School League

bicycle covered in snow
Originally uploaded by berry101.

Bike On is sponsoring a bike-to-school challenge to promote fun and cycling. There are two categories: Total Bikes and Ridership.

The first challenge took place in October. Minneapolis South (79), Minneapolis Southwest (68), and Richfield (58)took the top three slots in Total Bikes. Richfield (4.76%), South (4.70%), and Southwest (4.67%) took the top three slots in Ridership.

At the moment, “Minnesota State” means “the 31 public and private high schools with 350 or more students located within an 8-mile radius of the downtown Minneapolis Central Library.” Gotta start somewhere.

The top 10 schools in each category will go on to participate in the winter and spring challenges.

The thing that leapt out at me was that the big private schools had low or non-existent participation (e.g., Cretin-Derham: 2, Breck: 0). But that makes sense. Most of those kids are busing or being driven because they don’t live anywhere nearby.

I don’t know how they’re promoting this in the schools. I presume they are in some way. I expect participation will be pretty low over the winter, but I’d be curious to see how it is in the spring once the students have had some more exposure to it (and assuming the weather in late April is decent).

Bike On also sponsored Global Bike Days at the Midtown Global Market and has an eye towards engaging and educating minorities and children/families in the benefits of cycling.

UPDATE: Further comments from Bike On’s Scott Smedberg…

We currently have a third program that is very successful called Women Bike On. It is women teaching women to bike on the Midtown Greenway. Info is available at bikeon.org, and in spanish at bikeon.org/es. This program needs publicity because there are a lot of women on our waiting list, and we are looking for donations, grants, ect. Bike on partners with the Midtown Greenway Coalition and Minneapolis Public Schools Community Education at Andersen School for this program.

Regarding the idea for the Bike-to-School League, I thought of it as a parent of children who have bked to High School with no recognition. In fact my daughter, now 21, was hit and severely injured her leg when she was 15, while biking to Southwest High School one morning in December. The perpetrator? A 17-year-old girl from Kenwood driving her parents SUV to school (and I think not being attentive at a four-way stop). Both could have choosen to take a free school bus, but instead took the initiative to travel in vastly different ways.

I work with youth for Minneapolis Parks and Recreation, and interest in bicycling is skyrocketing among youth, with no corresponding support from the city, park, school, non-profits, ect. The League is an inexpensive and fun way to get kids to organize themselves, give some recognition to teenagers who are living well and transporting themselves by bike.

We sent out a press release and do not know if this will make the news the first time around, but we are sure that this will become well known state-wide before long. We are also looking for league “officials” to make this state-wide, they can volunteer by emailing scott@bikeon.org. Also, there are already a few High School students in Minneapolis who are volunteering with Students Bike On, we are looking for more students, also in other municipalities (in particular Richfield–Go Richfield!!, that result surprised me!).

2 Comments so far

  1. Moe (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

    I could be wrong, but I believe Richfield has drastically changed their bus system since I graduated there in 1996 due to budget cuts. I think buses no longer pick up kids that live within a mile from the school, and with Richfield being so small, that’s a lot of kids that needed to find another way to get to school.


  2. Joe Hoover (unregistered) on November 30th, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

    Wow, I am happy to know that Richfield is on the top of the list. 75th and 76th Streets in Richfield are getting makeover that will include bike trails. On 76th Street from 35W to Cedar Ave they are reducing it from four lanes to two lanes with bike lanes and sidewalks. Sadly many people along the route do not see the value in this and the city has had to remove the bike lanes stripes on 75th Street due to opposition as well as the reduce the sidewalk to one side on 76th Street past Nicollet. Many attending the meeting do not understand the value of biking (or walking for that matter) It does not help that many attending the meetings are over 60 years old.



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