Raleigh Bicycles honored middle school health and fitness teacher Wendy Crites (in yellow shirt) with a new Raleigh road bike for her ongoing commitment to youth bicycling and her leadership of the Bike To School Challenge program in Rocky River. Also pictured from left: Century Cycles owner Scott Cowan, RRMS principal Megan Rose , Executive Vice President of Raleigh Bicycles Chris Speyer and Rocky River Mayor Pam Bobst.
Rocky River Bike To School Challenge concluded at Rocky River Middle School on Thursday, May 24, with a school-wide celebration of the students’ bicycling accomplishments by the city’s mayor, school administrators and program organizers and sponsors.
Rocky River Middle School students logged 12,240 miles on their bikes during the three-week program that began on May 7, and on average 44% of Rocky River Middle School biked each day of the program. It was an effort that had a significant impact on the students, their community and the environment -- burning hundreds of thousands of calories, preventing a significant amount of carbon dioxide emissions and saving their parents a lot of gas money. Prizes were also awarded to the students, their school and one of their teachers.
“Your choice to ride your bike to school and to other parts of Rocky River has made a significant difference in your health, the health of the environment, and the health of our city,” said Rocky River Mayor Pam Bobst in her address to the students at the school-wide assembly on Thursday. “Rocky River Bike To School Challenge has been so successful. For that, we thank you, we applaud you, we admire you, and you are inspiring our entire community.”
Main sponsors Century Cycles bicycle store in Rocky River and bicycle manufacturer Raleigh Bicycles teamed up to give away grand prize bicycles to 6th grader Hanna Chapman and 7th grader Laura Banks. Raleigh Bicycles gave Rocky River Middle School a $500 award for exceeding its bicycling goals during the challenge, to use for fitness and bicycling programs. The company also honored middle school health and fitness teacher Wendy Crites with a new Raleigh road bike for her ongoing commitment to youth bicycling and her leadership of the Bike To School Challenge program in Rocky River.
“Bike To School Challenge is unique and is the best of its kind in the nation,” said Chris Speyer, Executive Vice President of Raleigh Bicycles, who travelled to Rocky River from the company’s headquarters near Seattle, Washington, to personally present the awards. “We work with over 1,400 bike stores around the country. I have never seen a bike-to-school program that generates the level of participation and excitement that this one does. It is a credit to the tremendous amount of commitment and work by the schools, your local bike shop Century Cycles and the entire community to engage and inspire the students. Raleigh Bicycles is extraordinarily proud to be part of Bike To School Challenge and will be back next year as a sponsor.”
Speyer also noted that bike stores in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, California and Minnesota are inspired the program and are eager to use it as a template for their own bike-to-school efforts.
Based on daily bike counts and student surveys, program organizers report that an average of 273 Rocky River Middle School students biked each day of the challenge, or 44% of the school’s enrollment of 620 students. This was up significantly from last year’s average of 191 bicyclists per day. Rocky River Middle School’s highest ride day during the challenge was May 11, when 344 students (56% of the school) bicycled. National surveys show that only about 10% of children bike or walk to school, down dramatically since the 1960s.
The students biked a total of 12,240 miles, up 32% from last year’s total miles. The average commute to Rocky River Middle School is 3.2 miles.
Rocky River students saved an estimated 13,464 pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from the environment by bicycling to school during the challenge’s three weeks. They also saved their parents $2,047.50 on gasoline, based on the current Ohio average gas price of $3.75/gallon.
Rocky River Bike To School Challenge began last year. Rocky River students have biked a total of 21,523 miles and saved an estimated 23,675 pounds of CO2 emissions during the program’s two years.
Calculating that a 100-pound person burns about 17 calories per mile during moderate bicycling, Rocky River students also burned an estimated 208,080 calories just bicycling to and from school. Studies show that physically active students do better academically and everyday exercise helps combat rampant childhood obesity.
The Rocky River Bike To School Challenge t-shirt design contest was won by 8th grade student Clara Sandu for the second year in a row. She won a prize package from Century Cycles, and her winning design is featured on the front of the shirt given by Century Cycles to every student who biked to school four days during the challenge.
Other sponsors who contributed prizes and support to make the program possible were Honey Hut Ice Cream, Subway of Rocky River, Rocky River PTA, SportsTime Ohio and Starbucks.
Bike To School Challenge is an award-winning, three-week program that seeks to inspire over 4,000 students in Bay Village, Rocky River and Medina to bike to school as much as possible to improve their health, help the environment and have fun. The program is organized by Century Cycles bicycle store in conjunction with the schools. During it, students carry cards that are stamped for each bike-ride to school and can be redeemed for prizes. For more information about Bike To School Challenge and to see photos and videos, go to www.centurycycles.com/to/BTS.