The Birch Lane Elementary School Bicycle Committee is seeking 20-, 24- and 26-inch bicycles for its new student bicycling program, launched last month. The program aims to provide bikes, helmets and locks to all students who need them.
The program originally grew from concerns about the traffic created by parents dropping off and picking up kids, but the group said there also exist various health, environmental and social reasons for pushing cycling.
Davis Bicycles! and the Davis Bike Club are planning “bike rodeos” to teach riding safety skills and check bikes this spring.
The school will be piloting a new system for logging miles with Saveagallon.org using barcode tags that fit on key chains. If a student bikes to school they can scan the tags and the system will automatically log the miles they have traveled on Saveagallon.org. The site shows kids their environmental impact and can notify their parents when they get to school.
Darin Wick, a senior technocultural studies major and member of the Davis Bike Collective, said the collective is helping refurbish donated bikes for kids who need them. The group operates a shop called Bike Forth, where they teach people how to repair bikes.
“We’re hoping it can be an opportunity for people to learn about bike repair and practice their skills,” Wick said. “We may even have some of the Birch Lane students work on their own bikes – two have already expressed interest and the program is just getting off the ground.”
According to Christal Waters of Davis Bicycles!, the committee formed after Birch Lane Principal Kathy Tyzzer appeared at a City of Davis Parking and Safety meeting to complain about the congestion in front of the school. Tyzzer wanted to get bikes for about 30 kids who might not otherwise have them.
Funds from the collective are being used to purchase helmets. Blisworks Bikes is getting locks and other equipment at wholesale prices, in addition to helping with repairs and providing storage space for donated bicycles. The Voluntary Gas Tax (VGT) group has offered financial support.
VGT is a group of Davis residents who are “taxing” themselves for the gasoline they use, then using the proceeds of those taxes to support organizations that are working in some way to reduce dependence on oil. They chose to fund the program at their January meeting.
“The VGT funds will be used to set up an account at Blisworks Bikes to help kids get lights and locks for their bikes,” said Anthony Palmere, a member of the tax group. “I do not yet have a final tally of all the contributions from VGT to that account but I know that over $100 has been pledged so far.”
Nonetheless, Wick said one of the biggest concerns he heard about the program is that giving kids bikes does not make them ride them.
“It’s perfectly valid, but that’s why the other aspects of the program are important,” Wick said. “The Save A Gallon site lets kids see the impact they’re having and logging miles gives the school a chance to reward those who ride.”
“Notifying parents will make them more comfortable with the idea that their children are out alone on their bicycles. We’ve been talking about things like having parent volunteers ride to school with groups of kids – like a carpool, but with better gas mileage,” he said.
Wick said he also believes the best way to make people feel like cycling is a safe and viable mode of transportation is to get more bikes on the road.
People who want to donate bikes can drop them off at Bike Forth, Monday 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday noon to 6 p.m. For more information on how to help e-mail email@example.com.
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.