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Bike to School: In Monterey County and elsewhere

For bike news and scenes from elementary, middle, and high schools around the county, scroll down below the “Stop” and “Go” notes, to “Schools in Monterey County: Support for Kids Who Bike.”

Volunteers = more successes!
Here are a few updates on local elementary schools, including examples of how volunteers help stretch funding to make more and better progress possible.

1. Volunteers can help maximize the success of the Monterey County Health Department’s steps toward more Safe Routes to School. To offer your help, please  contact Jairo Hernandez – hernandezja@co.monterey.ca.us or  (831) 755-4752.

The Health Department has a 21-month Safe Routes to School grant, as reported 12/21/12 by Claudia Meléndez Salinas. [Update to Claudia's story: The grant did not start 3/31/13 as expected, as funds were withheld by the State. As a result, it will continue until June 30, 2015.]

  • Five elementary schools are the focus of this grant, to benefit four schools in Seaside–Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, Ord Terrace Elementary, Highland Elementary, and Del Rey Oaks Elementary; and one in Marina, Marina Vista Elementary.
  • Mari presented about Bicycling Monterey and other local bike safety resources at the Safe Routes to School Committee 2/7/14 meeting: Feb 2014_SRTS AGENDA. There was much discussion about the need for more mindfulness by drivers in school zones.
  • In Seaside, a special bike safety event and ride for grades K-5 took place at Laguna Grande Park on 5/17/13, organized by Debra Dunn and Susan Kent of the Monterey County Health Department.  Up to 50 children received new bike helmets as part of the festivities. Special thanks to community volunteers and others who made this event fun and successful for the children: Frank Henderson, League of American Bicyclists certified instructor, who helped with helmet fitting and more; Rob Cepeda, Service Manager, Sports Center Bicycles of Seaside, who did many complimentary repairs; Cath Tendler-Valencia of Velo Club Monterey, and Vera Noghera of VCM, who helped out with registration, incentives, and the ride; Let’s Go Outdoors, a program of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District; Community Partnership for Youth; Nutrition Network; and Seaside Police Cadets. (View fliers that announced this event:
    5-17-13 Bike Seaside – English5-17-13 Bici Seaside – espanol
    )
  • Susan Kent participated in a 2/27/13 community TV presentation as reported here. Susan also indicated that among other tentative activities are Rock and Roll Days.

The Health Department makes use of Safe Moves and other resources in its Safe Routes to School projects.

2.     Among activities for Monterey County kids: Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) is contracting again in 2014 with Ecology Action of Santa Cruz to put on Bike Smart! Youth Bicycle Safety Education (www.bikesmart.org), aka “bike rodeos,” for some 5th grade students at Monterey County schools. Historically, Ecology Action has worked in Santa Cruz County. As of 2013, they are active in Monterey County, so are now seeking local volunteers. Duties include assisting on the obstacle course as youth ride through on bikes to practice their bike handling and traffic skills. To apply for a volunteer position, contact Elise Ehrheart, Program Coordinator, by email – eehrheart@ecoact.org – or by phone 831-515-1324. If you have other questions, contact Andy Cook, Bicycle/Pedestrian coordinator at TAMC. Four rodeos took place at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Greenfield in December 2013.  Four were done in May 2013 at Kammann School in Salinas. Locations for 2014 are yet to be determined as of 2/10/14. (One possible location is Castroville, so if you’d like to volunteer there, please step up and offer your help to Elise.)

3. Here’s a shout-out to Taylor Farms! Now and then it can be challenging to balance the needs of bicyclists and others, including farmers (click for example). Below you’ll learn about partnerships between agriculture leaders and people who bike, and one of the ways that Monterey County’s ag community strongly supports bicycling. Refer to the Bardin Elementary School info in this post, where you’ll read about the “Pedal to Perfection” program. You’ll find out how 100 Taylor Farms employees volunteered their time in June 2013 to benefit 321 kindergarten through 6th grade students at Bardin, as well as other ways the program benefits school children in Monterey County. (Some folks asked how they can send some bike love/a thank you to Taylor. Write to Bruce Taylor, CEO; Taylor Farms; PO Box 1649, Salinas, CA 93902.)

4. Madonna Del Sasso School, Salinas had a bicycle rodeo on 11/15/13, thanks to a partnership with the Monterey Bay Racing Team. This amateur racing team  hosted the rodeo/bike clinic to teach children bike skills and precautions to help them ride a bicycle safely. Riders were checked for proper helmet and bike fit. An eight-station biking course allowed kids to learn proper mounting and dismounting of a bike, how to change direction and turn in circles, steer through tight spots, weave (appropriately!), stop quickly, ride super slow while maintaining balance, and maneuver tight turns. Questions? Contact Don Chapin III, (831) 444-4130 or email d3@donchapin.com.

Photo at top: Monterey County mom Susan Ragsdale-Cronin bikes her daughters to school on a regular basis, from their Del Rey Oaks home to San Carlos School in downtown Monterey.

Stop!

Go!

Go, indeed! Go to your school’s leaders and see how you can work together to copy Monterey County’s 1st on-campus bike maintenance station:

Did you know that Salinas High School has gone from empty bicycle racks to packed-full racks, with overflow bikes locked to fencing? In August 2012, SHS added a student bicycle maintenance station. That’s right! The bike maintenance/repair stand and tools are available to any student, courtesy of the SHS mountain biking team.  See that MTB team–and bike buzz from other Monterey County elementary, middle, and high schools–below.

Wonder if the SHS bike maintenance station gets much use? You bet! After the school day ended on 8/29/12, eight or more students quickly gathered to work on their bikes.  Click here and see for yourself!

Tip of the helmet to Salinas High School! To my knowledge, this cool do-it-yourself bicycle work station at SHS is the first bike maintenance station at any public or private elementary, middle, high school, or college in Monterey County. (Following SHS, Cal State-Monterey Bay/CSUMB will have two DIY fix-it stations installed.)

Salinas High students need not worry if they get to school and realize their brakes are in dire need of adjusting. No need to fit in an urgent stop at a bike shop before heading to an after-school job, sports practice, homework session, or other destination.  Instead, students can stop by the SHS bike maintenance station and do it themselves.  Need a little air in your tires?  On the SHS campus, you know right where to go–Mr. Warwick’s classroom, location of this convenient new station.  Questions? Contact Jim Warwick, 831-262-4152.

Maybe you’re an SHS student and thinking “Great, but I don’t know what to do with those tools.”  Here’s one solution:  During after-school hours in July and September 2013, there are basic bike maintenance classes in Monterey for children over age eight, as well as teens and adults; click here.

Be cool on campus

Notice all the buzz around the nation is “bike to school,” not “bike at school”?  After you’ve arrived inside the SHS schoolyard, please walk your bike.  This is the campus rule for some other Monterey County schools too, depending on the campus layout. Unsure? Check with the school administration, or contact me.

First, why bike to school

Even if your route to school isn’t ideal, consider a bike-and-ride or bike-and-walk option. Any mile of active transportation beats a mile of driving, and most children and teens find it’s more fun getting to school on two wheels, even partway.

Why bike?  If you’re thinking, “Biking is great, but gotta focus on studies first and foremost,” consider that “Active Kids = Smarter Kids.”  There’s also evidence that girls who bike had higher test scores.

What’s lost when kids don’t bike to school?”  David Darlington responded to that question on National Public Radio, May 2, 2012. Hear the 16-minute audio or read the transcript at NPR.org.

Schools providing bike-friendly resources are doing a lot to build students’ health–including preventing obesity and diabetes (as North Monterey County and South Santa Cruz County teen advocates for physical activity know), and much more.

When Dr. Hugh Stallworth retired from the Monterey County Health Department in June 2012, after a 42-year career in the field, he told the Monterey County Weekly’s Sara Rubin that the most challenging public health issue here is one shared by the nation:  childhood obesity.   He warned that changing this is going “to have to be an entire community effort. If we don’t solve that one, the prediction is this is the first generation where parents might outlive their kids. That’s one of my greatest concerns.” Biking can help!

For more benefits of bicycling, see “Why bike.”

Schools in Monterey County:

Support for Kids Who Bike

Besides Salinas High School, what other support is there at schools in Monterey County for students who ride a bike? Below are a variety of examples.

Monterey Park Elementary School, Salinas

When Principal Ron Dillender came to Monterey County to serve at Monterey Park Elementary School, a K-6 Salinas City Elementary School, he had been an avid supporter of kids biking for many years. At his previous school, Mr. Dillender had teamed up with another  administrator to create a bike club. Why? They knew that a bike club could help students become more active and motivated.

Mr. Dillender wanted to help his Salinas students bike too. At Monterey Park, another dedicated educator and cyclist, Cliff Siegel, supported this vision by giving a great deal of time, expertise, and dedication to make Monterey Park Cycling successful.

Monterey Park Elementary School students don’t just bike on rides with their cycling club. Among those who also bike to school is a kindergartner who rides, accompanied by her parents, the 3/4 mile back and forth to school every day. In the 2012-13 school year, this kindergarten student missed biking-to-school only five times. Kudos to Monterey Park for inspiring and supporting more kids in this healthy habit.

Some Monterey Park School students and their parents were among the people of all ages who came to the 2013 Intergenerational Ride celebrating Bike Week. It is thanks to those students–who were wearing their bright green “Monterey Park Cycling” t-shirts–that Bicycling Monterey learned about their school’s bike club!

Click here so you can learn more about Monterey Park Cycling too.

Pacific Grove Middle School

Pacific Grove Middle School teacher Dessa Murphy is happy that many PG middle schoolers are biking to school.  This physical education teacher knows the many benefits of biking, and she’s an avid cyclist herself!

Many schools around the country have a “bike cage” that is locked by personnel at beginning and end of the day.  Although PG Middle’s handbook encourages personal bike locks inside the cage anyway, schools nationwide recognize that making a locked “bike cage” available has the advantage of accommodating kids whose families cannot afford bicycle locks. 

Santa Rita Elementary, Salinas

Santa Rita Elementary School was the first school in Salinas to provide a “bike cage” so kids biking to school would have that easy bike security option.  Tip of the helmet to Santa Rita for leading the way in Salinas!

La Paz Middle School, Salinas

You can see another “bike cage” at La Paz Middle School in Salinas.  Even on a winter morning (the photo below was taken on January 10, 2012), La Paz  had students who biked to school and made use of the school’s helpful bike security measure.

Want to enjoy the views of those beautiful Gabilan mountains, as the children biking to school do (below)?  See tips for bicycling in Salinas.  Want to help get more youth on bikes?  See “Salinas youth and others for bikes:  Bikes make life better!”

Bardin Elementary, Salinas

Bardin Elementary also encourages biking to school by likewise providing the bike-security measure of a bike cage. Stress about your bike while you’re trying to study?  Not at Bardin! And you’ll see lots of bikes parked at Bardin. Why? Here’s one big reason:

Taylor Farms partnered with Golden State Foods Foundation to donate 321 bikes to hard-working K-6 students at Bardin, presented on June 5, 2013.

The “Pedal to Perfection” program rewarded students with a brand new bike, helmet, and lock for demonstrating near to perfect attendance during the school year, as well as other outstanding behavior. The program helped raise student attendance rates and helps motivate at-risk children to achieve academic success.

Thanks also to a hundred Taylor Farms employees who volunteered to assemble and deliver the  bikes.

Here’s a big shout-out to Taylor Farms and Golden State Foods Foundation for recognizing the many benefits of bicycling, including for physical health and academic success.

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More support from Taylor Farms for Alisal District school children

For the 2013-2014 school year, Taylor Farms will again reward students at another Alisal District School (not yet named) with new bikes, helmets, and locks, just as they did for Bardin in June 2013.

In addition, first grade students get a different sort of boost from Taylor Farms at Alisal Community Elementary, Frank Paul Elementary, Los Padres Elementary, and Roosevelt Elementary. Every year, children entering first grade at these Alisal District Schools receive a new backpack, courtesy of Taylor Farms. And as every bicyclist knows, having a backpack can be a good solution for toting books and such while biking, so you can keep both hands free for the handlebars. Thanks, Taylor Farms!

Dr. Oscar F. Lloya Elementary,  Salinas

At Oscar Lloya Elementary School, planners also knew that being free of worries about your bike’s security at school means more kids will bike. And they know biking benefits students in so many ways!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy, Salinas

Even though few kids bike to school at this time–many instead walk to school–that doesn’t meant their principal and other staff aren’t thinking about how to support the MLK kids in biking!  One goal: Secure funds to purchase helmets that can be given to students, along with bike safety instruction.  The MLK staff knows that biking is great for kids’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being.  They’d love to make it possible for more students to bike in their neighborhoods–with helmets, as required by CA law for minors.

Meanwhile, MLK shows it places a high priority on biking as a transportation option by the location of their bike rack:  conveniently placed near the entrance to school.

Madonna Del Sasso School, Salinas

Madonna Del Sasso School, a co-ed preschool through 8th grade Catholic school is partnering with the Monterey Bay Racing Team to teach children bike skills and precautions to help them ride safely.

Salinas High School Cowboys Racing Mountain Bike Team

Salinas High Cowboys Racing team  photo courtesy of Jeff Lindenthal

2012 Team Photo – Salinas High’s MTB team

Read about the Salinas High Cowboys Racing Mountain Bike Team on this site.

Don’t have a bike and want to be on the SHS team? Or, have a bike to donate to an SHS student who’d like to be on the team? Click here.

 Monterey Composite High School Mountain Bike Team

Monterey Composite team photo courtesy of Mark Kintz

Monterey Composite paceline - daylight

Homeschool, unschool, public school, private school, or independent study:  If you are a high-school-age student from anywhere in Monterey County, you are welcome to be on the Monterey Composite team. No tryouts, and all ability levels welcome.

Read about Monterey Composite High School Mountain Bike Team on this site.

Palma School

Palma School, an all-boys Catholic college prep high school in the Salinas Valley, has started a mountain bike team as of January 2013. Initial contacts are Mr. George Garibay (422-6391) or Mr. John Pattullo (970-6537). Click here.

Rancho Cielo Youth Campus

Rancho Cielo youth have the opportunity to fulfill their physical education credits by joining Luciano Rodriguez, a teacher’s aide at RC, in racing at the annual Sea Otter Classic. (Luciano is a pro SOC racer and has raced there for 11 consecutive years as of April 2013.) The first Rancho Cielo student followed Luciano’s lead by racing SOC in April 2012, and in April 2013, there were five RC students racing in this world-renowned event.

Rancho Cielo students can also gain inspiration about biking by taking a field trip to Sea Otter, which is not only renowned worldwide for bike racing but is also a bicycle festival and features North America’s largest bike expo.

Tip of the helmet to Luciano for providing the necessary leadership to establish biking activities at Rancho Cielo, through a focus on trail building and mountain biking on the ranch property.

Stevenson School

Stevenson School (formerly Robert Louis Stevenson School/RLS) points out to their high school students that biking is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the Monterey Peninsula.  Stevenson highlights local biking resources in their website’s Student Life section for the Pebble Beach campus (grades 9-12), under suggested Weekend Activities.  Clearly Stevenson School leaders recognize how biking benefits youth, and they want their students to experience the many benefits of bicycling.

Robert H. Down Elementary School, Pacific Grove

This Pacific Grove public school usually has an annual bicycle rodeo, thanks to parent/teacher volunteers from the Robert Down PTA. For 2012, it is scheduled for Sat, 8/25, from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

The Robert Down bike rodeo is supported by other volunteers too, including Hector Chavez, owner of Winning Wheels Bicycle Shop (831-375-4322), 318 Grand Avenue, Pacific Grove.  Basic bicycle safety checks are part of the mix.  If you have bike maintenance skills, call Hector and volunteer to help keep kids’ bikes in safe running condition.

South County

Click here to read an Aug 2012 report on Safe Routes to School in our South County cities of King City and Soledad.

Jack Franscioni Elementary School, Soledad

Safe Routes to School 4/26/12 presentation at Jack Franscioni 

Ride America for Safe Routes visitors were in Monterey County in April 2012.  They made a presentation at Jack Franscioni Elementary School in Soledad, then did the bike-and-ride to Monterey, where they camped at Veterans Park.  Click here for photos from their visit on this site.

Other Safe Routes to School activity in Monterey County

See “Safe Routes to School” contacts for Monterey County in Section 19 of the Bicycle Shops, Services, Clubs, and Resources page.  Be aware that these leaders are working hard to accomplish a variety of job responsibilities during times of austere budgets.  Ask what you can do to help!

Claudia Meléndez Salinas reported in the Monterey County Herald’s School Bytes blog on 12/21/12 that Ord Terrace Elementary, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, Highland Elementary, Del Rey Oaks Elementary, and Marina Vista Elementary will benefit from a 21-month Safe Routes to School grant, beginning March 1, 2013.  The goal of the grant is getting more kids to bike or walk to school. [11/14/13 update: The grant did not start 3/31/13 as expected, as funds were withheld by the State. It only recently started and will go until June 30, 2015.] 

Monterey County Youth Center, Salinas

Some teen boys, from all over Monterey County, are in the care of the Monterey County Probation Department Youth Center, Salinas.  Their primary instruction is provided by the Monterey County Office of Education.  In addition, they have a variety of enrichment classes.

Among these classes is a popular bicycle repair and safety class, launched April 15, 2012. The class is offered to a small number of students at this time, but more volunteer instructors could increase those numbers.

Click here to learn about the Monterey County Youth Center bike class, and how you can support its longevity and expansion!

Youth Center bike safety and repair instructors Frank Henderson and Korey Ericson

Highlight other bike-friendly Monterey County schools

Add a comment to this post about other Monterey County schools with bike activities or events, good bike parking, or other support for student bicyclists–or a need for it.  Share a photo of bicycles, bike racks, or students or staff biking at local schools.  (Contact me and arrange to email a photo.)

Got teacher?

League of American Bicyclists local instructor Frank Henderson is available to come to Monterey County and Monterey Bay region schools and events.

For related info on this site, see:

Children and Teens section of this site (access it above the banner anytime).  Besides biking info, you’ll also find a few other youth-related resources such as Barbara Coloroso’s visit to Monterey County–Kids Are Worth it! Includes teen and Spanish/English free materials on the Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander.

If you have children or teens interested in mountain biking, take advantage of the Monterey Off Road Cycling Association / MORCA’s Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, where they’ll receive safety instruction while having fun. MORCA has regularly scheduled rides for a variety of abilities. Their activities are included on Bicycling Monterey’s master calendar, or to focus on MORCA activities only, refer to the MORCA calendar at MORCAmtb.org.

Consider that many kids in our county can’t afford bikes; maybe you can help!

Elsewhere in the Monterey Bay region

Additional Safe Routes to School support

Having participated in two recent Safe Routes to School webinars (Webinars 3 and 6 below), I know these resources are typically full of helpful info.  Please refer to the bottom of this post for links.

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The information below is excerpted
from Safe Routes to School’s Dec 2011 E-News:

Resources from Six-Part SRAM Bicycling Webinar Series Available Online
Access them at www.saferoutespartnership.org/SRAM-Bicycling-Webinars

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership hosted a six-part webinar series in 2011 that focused on bicycling and Safe Routes to School. A special thanks to the SRAM Cycling Fund for making this series possible. Hundreds of people attended each of the webinars.

A complete list of the webinars is below. Click the links below to watch a recording of the webinar and download the webinar’s tip sheet, PowerPoint slides and Q&A sheet.

  • Webinar 1: Getting Bike Shops and Advocates to Collaborate on Safe Routes to School
  • Webinar 2: Organizing Successful Bike Trains
  • Webinar 3: Bicycle Parking, Storage, and Security at Schools
  • Webinar 4: Funding, Organizing and Maintaining Bicycle Fleets
  • Webinar 5: Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations and Safe Routes to School
  • Webinar 6: Strategies for Increasing Bicycling in Low-Income Communities

Bike train for Monterey County? Hold that thought!

There is a desire to get funding to have a bike train to help kids biking to school in Salinas.   Check in with county and city bike/pedestrian committees to see if perhaps you can help with grant research, grant writing, and the like.

A note to philanthropists

Here’s an idea for a $15,000 gift that could be made to a local school or perhaps to the Monterey County Health Department’s Safe Routes to School efforts: See Dutch kids pedal their own bus to school!

Such a gift would not only be a healthy way for 11 children and their adult “driver” to get to school, it would also be an eye-catcher that can help bring attention to local SRTS and other efforts to get more kids enjoying active, environmentally sound transportation. 

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Archived Spring 2012 notes re Bike to School Day

Bike to School Day in Monterey County means kids at participating Monterey, Salinas, Seaside, and Soledad schools will be celebrating their joy rides over free breakfasts.

Since its inception in 1995, Bike to School Day has been observed in the Monterey Bay region.

The U.S. Department of Transportation proclaimed May 9, 2012 the First National Bike to School Day!  Congratulations to @Bike2School in Bloomington, IL and other leaders in this grassroots movement. It’s terrific to work in partnership with others around the nation to support more kids biking to school!

Not sure your child’s bike is in safe working condition?  Take advantage of $10 safety checks and minor tune-ups at many Monterey County bike shops in celebration of Bike Week.

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Previously published 12/3/11.

  1. I love the idea of school based bicycle maintenance stations for students and have forwarded the idea to colleagues in the Santa Cruz area. Thanks for sharing!

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