CHESHIRE — Bike to School Day is coming back. The event was launched in 2019, but was cancelled last year, due to the pandemic.
“Bike to School is the best thing we get to do at Bike Cheshire. Seeing everyone smiling and experiencing the joy of bike riding is just good for the soul,” said Jim Jinks, Bike Cheshire founder and executive director.
The event is scheduled to begin with Chapman’s Bike to School Day on Wednesday. Highland’s Bike to School Day will be held on National Walk & Bike to School Day on Oct. 6. The rides will be held before school and will be about three miles in length, traveling through several school neighborhoods.
Recalling the inaugural ride with Doolittle students in 2019, Jinks remembered the impact it made on some youngsters. One student riding alongside Jinks said, “You know, this is surprisingly fun.”
The student never rode his bike to school before.
“I think we helped to open his eyes,” said Jinks. “I hope that’s what we’re doing for the kids and parents. Riding a bike just to get around town is not only possible but often so much better than taking the car. It’s an adventure in a way that driving can’t ever replicate.”
Jinks and Bike Cheshire hope Bike to School Day takes hold — becoming bigger and more frequent.
“It would be really great if we got to the point where small groups were biking to school once a week or even more often. Bike to School Day shouldn’t be an ‘event,’” he said. “It should be more a part of our lives, as it used to be decades ago.”
According to Jinks, the Bike to School Day events will be a part of more than 1,100 others happening across the country to celebrate biking (and walking) to school. The Chapman and Highland elementary school rides are open to all students and their parents. Bikes must be two-wheels (no training wheels). Kids in K-2 must be accompanied by an adult. All participants must be registered, sign a waiver and wear a helmet. For further details visit facebook.com/bikecheshire and walkbiketoschool.org.
In addition to the Bike to School Day, Bike Cheshire also announces its Safe Biking. Safe Kids Initiative. Beginning May 2022, Bike Cheshire will provide a bike skills and safe biking curriculum for Cheshire fourth graders. Bike Cheshire will supply bikes, helmets, other gear and volunteers to help Cheshire’s elementary physical education teachers conduct fun and engaging gym classes about bikes and riding safety.
The initial funding for the program was made possible by corporate and community donors, including Hartford Healthcare, ConnectiCare, Cheshire Cycle Racing Team, Marion Manufacturing, Gromko Insurance, the Nutmeg Youth Triathlon Team and the Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire. The donations enabled Bike Cheshire and the Nutmeg Youth Triathlon Team to qualify for a full $10,000 matching grant from Outride (www.outridebike.org), a philanthropic organization affiliated with Specialized Bicycles.
“Bike riding is a life skill that all kids should have a chance to learn. There was a time when bikes were a part of gym class, we’re just bringing it back,” said Jinks. “We’re really glad to partner with the Nutmeg Youth Triathlon Team (NYTT) on this initiative and very grateful to all our generous donors and the Outride organization for helping to make this happen in Cheshire.”
NYTT’s Doug Levens said, “In both my work at the Cheshire YMCA and as a youth triathlon coach I am always trying to promote a healthy lifestyle for our kids. This is just one more way that I can help get our kids outside and being physically active and at the same time give parents the reassurance that their children understand how to safely ride around town.”
Bike Cheshire is a community nonprofit founded in 2018 and dedicated to make Cheshire a more bike-friendly community. Bike Cheshire operates a community bike share, organizes group ride events and promotes bike riding for better health, safer streets, more successful small businesses and building community in Cheshire and beyond.