BIKING BENEFITS: Exercise On The Way To Class

There was beautiful weather as kids made a two wheel trek to school Wednesday. Students around the country rode their bikes to school for the second annual bike to school day. About 30 Iowa schools participated, including a few in central Iowa.

Dad John McCannon said, “It’s quite a bit different. Usually there’s a line of cars on Aurora here.” The McCannon family made a two wheel trek to Jensen Elementary in Urbandale. 9-year-old Lucas said, “It’s kind of fun because you get a little exercise and it’s fast.”

Most of the school’s 200 students participated in Bike to School Day. School Organizer Kati Ploeger said, “Establishing good healthy habits from day one is going to help them all the way when they’re older.”

Teachers told kids to always wear a helmet and closed toed shoes. Urbandale Police Officers ran safety checks and issued bike licenses.

Iowa Safe Routes to School Program Manager Kathy Ridnour said, “The number of students walking and biking has dropped tremendously over the years, so this program helps get students interested.”

The group works with cities and schools to encourage walking and biking to class. Ridnour said, “Part of this involves development of better sidewalks for students to be able to do that.”

Ridnour said one of the most interesting projects is a speed table. Two were recently installed near Hubbell Elementary and Roosevelt High School in Des Moines to slow down traffic. Ridnour said, “Since there are so many young high school drivers.”

Ridnour says safer routes means fewer cars on the road, less pollution and better air for kids to breath. And, biking brings benefits to the classroom too. She said, “There are studies that have shown students who walk or bike to school, are ready to learn. There are fewer detention problems and behavioral problems in the school.”

Lucas said, “I do better in school when I bike because then my mind is ‘freshed out’ because of all the exercise and sun.”

Regional and metro planning organizations offer funding for traffic calming measures and new sidewalks.