The COVID-19 pandemic threatened to derail Wednesday’s statewide Bike to School Day, but organizers of the annual event have shifted gears and are encouraging kids — and their parents — to participate in the event rebranded as Bike Anywhere Day.
Yes, that does mean anywhere, including the nearby park or local Dairy Queen, said Jill Chamberlain, senior program manager of community health at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s Center for Prevention. With students doing distance learning, anywhere could also mean riding to the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis to augment a history lesson.
Regardless of location, the idea is to get out and combine exercise with academics.
“A family could do this to improve learning,” said Chamberlain, who helps schools participating in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program. “When it comes to physical activity, some is good and more is better,” she said.
Last year students from 171 schools participated in Bike to School Day, which for the past decade has been held on the first Wednesday of May.
This year there are online resources, including a bike bingo card, crossword puzzle, word search and mileage tracker. The activities integrate safety messages covering everything from the importance of checking the amount of air in the tires and that brakes work to wearing a helmet and following the rules of the road.
Sarah Stewart, who leads Bike to School Day activities for St. Paul Public Schools, said she will take her son, Dylan, 7, on a ride through Highland Park. The lessons of the day, Stewart said, will include completing a scavenger hunt and teaching him how to look for cars and what to do at stop signs.
“With traffic volumes down, it’s nice and pleasant and we can practice skills that he will be able to use for a long time,” she said. “It’s a good break from distance learning and a chance to get some exercise and take care of the mind.”