2007-04-12 / News

Jamestown kids will participate in Walk, Bike, and Bus to School Month

By Michaela Kennedy

Wash those sneakers. Tune up those bicycles. Find the nearest bus stop and join island students in a celebration of fitness, clean air, safety and community. Walk, Bike, and Bus to School Month is slated for April 23 to May 18.

Rolling Agenda, a group of volunteers that promote safe bicycle riding and walking on the island, has organized the month-long commuting event to encourage children to walk, ride a bike or ride the bus to school. Starting April 23, Rolling Agenda will encourage students and staff to bike, walk or use the bus to go to school. The effort, linking Earth Day on April 22 with National Bike Day on May 8, is coordinated in conjunction with the Jamestown schools.

Before the month begins, Rolling Agenda has scheduled a bicycle safety event on Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to noon. Long-distance bikers will be on the tarmac behind Lawn Avenue School to check children's bikes for good wheel alignment, brakes, seat height, and other safety features. Police support will also be on hand to help with bicycle safety tips and registrations.

To prepare for the month of environment and health-conscious commuting, physical education teachers will discuss safe biking and walking rules during classes. To prepare for the added pedestrian traffic, town workers will sweep sand from the streets leading into the school grounds, according to Public Works Director Steven Goslee.

During the month of stepped up activity, police officers will keep an eye out for the "eco-commuters," especially during the rush before and after school, School Committee member Julie Kallfelz said.

"As an incentive, we will enter frequent eco-commuters into one of three raffles depending on their chosen mode of transportation," said Samira Hakki, Rolling Agenda volunteer. Anyone who uses one of the three modes of transportation for at least 10 of the 20 days between April 23 and May 18 will be eligible for the drawing, Hakki added. Those who use more than one type of transportation will be entered into the raffle for the mode they used most often. Each school will have a separate drawing.

Students will self report by checking off their mode of transportation on a sign-in sheet which will be posted in each home room.

The bicycle raffle, called "Primp My Bike," will offer the winner a professional paint job and tune-up for their two-wheeler. "Art's Auto Body will donate the paint job. Ten Speed Spokes in Newport will take the bike apart to be painted, and then reassemble, including a tune up," Kallfelz noted. The winner of the bus raffle will receive an Amazon.com gift certificate, and the winner of the walker raffle will receive a pair of sneakers or walking shoes.

The health benefits of walking or biking, and the environmental benefits of taking the bus are the focal points of the month event. "We're going to take some video footage of the positive things we're doing," Hakki noted. Parents are being asked to refrain from driving their kids to school unless it is absolutely necessary during this period. "We are trying to create a safe environment for the bikers and walkers, and the less cars around the school, the better."

On Monday, April 23, and every day that week, Rolling Agenda volunteers will inventory the vehicles that drop students off at Melrose Avenue School. "Starting on Tuesday, we will display a sign that indicates the amount of carbon dioxide emitted as a result of parents driving their kids to school since Monday," Hakki said. "This will be updated every day through Friday."

For more information on Walk, Bike, and Bus to School month, contact Carol Nelson-Lee at 423- 2905.

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