Booster

School 'bus' will rely on pedal power Friday, May 20

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The wheels on this "bus" will definitely go round and round.

No internal combustion will be involved.

The members of the Clintonville chapter of Safe Routes to School are planning to put on the "Indianola Bike Bus" on Friday, May 20.

These involve adults, either parents or volunteers from the bicycling community, accompanying students to and from Indianola K-8 on East Weber Road, according to committee chairwoman Elizabeth Smith.

At least four separate groups of students will be led by two adults each, one in front and the other in back, in the inaugural Bike Bus for the local chapter of Safe Routes to School.

Safe Routes to School is a national program based at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. Its goals are to encourage children walk or ride their bikes to school while making certain that they do so safely.

"(T)here are plenty of great reasons to walk and bike to school - less traffic, safer streets, cleaner air - but one of the best is that children and parents will be healthier," according to the website of the national center. "With obesity rates skyrocketing and only one quarter of Americans getting the Surgeon General's recommended daily dose of exercise - just 30 minutes - it's an ideal time to encourage people to walk and bike to school for their own health and well-being.

"Walking or biking to school protects the environment and your health. When children decide to lace up their sneakers to walk or strap on their bike helmets to pedal to school instead of riding in a car, they reduce the amount of air pollutants emitted by automobiles."

Rounding up participants for the initial Indianola Bike Bus has been a bit slow, Smith conceded. "It's getting there," she said last week.

"The first time, it's always limited participation," Smith added. "People are always waiting to see how it goes before committing their child."

While support from bike riding teams is appreciated in getting the concept off the ground, the chairwoman of the committee that is part of the nonprofit Safer Streets for All said that getting parents to buy in is crucial.

"We're trying to get more parents, also, from Indianola to volunteer with the Bike Bus because that way it can keep going," Smith said. "We can't keep it going with just volunteers."

Safe Routes to Schools committee members considered a Walking Bus, but decided to start off with the bicycle version, and are keeping that to within a set distance of the school at 251 E. Weber Road.

"At this point we're looking at probably a half mile, maybe three quarters of a mile from the school because it's the first time," Smith said. "We're looking at about that area."

And, Smith added, they're looking at imparting some important messages to the students who make up the Bike Bus.

"I hope that they can realize they can ride their bike to school on a regular basis," she said.

For information about Safe Routes to School efforts, contact Smith at 840-1046. Her e-mail address is smithemnk@yahoo.com.

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