Wednesday May 6, was National Bike to School Day and Toledo Public Schools partnered with Live Well Greater Toledo and Toledo Bikes to make sure students had safe routes and reliable bikes for their rides to school.

Students at Grove Patterson Academy, Arlington Elementary, and Marshall Elementary, to name a few, participated in recent Bike Fix-It events to make sure they were ready for the big day.

Arlington Principal Lori Reffert reports that more than 300 students, 20-plus staff members and more than 30 family members and friends rode their bikes or walked to Highland Park as part of the school's celebration of the day.

"Big thanks to Jenny Hansen from Safe Routes to School/Live Well Greater Toledo and Bethany Deakins from Live Well Greater Toledo for helping us stay organized, the donation of at least 120 bike helmets and for helping secure the bikes after the event," Dr. Reffert said.

The staff at Toledo Bikes was instrumental in the bike tuneups before the big day, thanks to a grant received through the Oswald Foundation and administered by the Toledo Community Foundation.Grove-Patterson-and-Bike-Fix-It-event-3-resized

That kind of support allows Erik Thomas and the staff of Toledo Bikes to afford spokes, tubes, chains and all the parts necessary to fix up the bikes.

“Through all of the programs this year we have already fixed over 140 bikes,” Mr. Thomas said at the Grove Patterson event on Friday, May 1. “One of the most important components is safe streets and healthy children.”

Ms. Hansen, of Live Well Greater Toledo, echoed the same idea.

“One of the biggest things we want to do is raise awareness that it is possible to ride to school. We need to help educate the students, the parents and the people who drive near our schools.”

Live Well Greater Toledo staff members fit student riders with helmets and teach them important techniques for staying safe while riding.

But often times, parents are concerned because of busy streets or distracted drivers.

“We actually spent a year studying the walking and riding routes for 40 TPS schools,” Ms. Hansen said. “We are working on a Safe Routes to School campaign and plan to create maps and routes that provide the safest way for students to get to school.”

The staff at Live Well is working with Toledo Public Schools and parent volunteers to implement other healthy ways to get to school.

Grove-Patterson-and-Bike-Fix-It-event-2-resized“We have a “walking school bus' program in place at Glenwood Elementary,” Ms. Hansen added. “Essentially, an adult volunteer walks a route just like a bus would and students join the walking route from their designated stops.”

Additionally, Live Well is working with city officials and the Ohio Department of Transportation to improve infrastructure near schools. “We have over 150 project proposals,” Ms. Hansen said. “We have received funding for 30 updated sidewalks, including a sidewalk in front of Hawkins [Elementary].” 

To find out more information or find out about the Safe Routes to School program, go to www.livewelltoledo.org And to find out the range of services and classes on bike maintenance, go to www.toledobikes.org Ask your principal about how your school can be a better biking destination.

Updated on May 6, 2015