by David Mendez
When Charlene Dipaola was in middle school, she wasn’t able to bike from home to her classes each day.
“No, sadly; I grew up in the Philippines, and my school was an hour away by driving,” Dipaola said. “But I wish I could have.”
But the president of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition kept up her love for riding bikes by playing with her friends, riding after school with friends, around the village. Recognizing the importance of cycling at a young age is what spurred SBCC, alongside the Beach Cities Cycling Club and Beach Cities Health District, to support May 3 as Bike to School Day for Manhattan Beach Middle School students.
“We’re not just working on getting our streets safer, but we believe that bike culture is a big thing,” Dipaola said. “Manhattan Beach Middle School is one of the central locations in our city, so we thought that maybe we’d be able to get them to join us for Bike to School Day.”
On May 3, students will be able to join up with their friends and classmates at points throughout Manhattan Beach to create a sort of “cycling school bus” — a mini-peloton joined by parents and public safety officials to help protect their kids. As part of the preparation for Bike to School Day, Steve Reichlin of the BCCC will be leading a bike safety class at MBMS on May 1, during lunch.
“We think that’s super important; a lot of reasons why I think kids don’t bike, or they struggle, is because they feel it’s not safe,” Dipaola said. “If your kids are trained, check their helmets, know how to check tires and ride on the correct side of the street, it really can be safe for kids in Manhattan Beach or the South Bay to bike to school.”
“Bike to School Day allows my child to earn the confidence to bike more often and allows me to better balance my work and other family activities,” said MBMS parent Bill Hory. “Moreover, for each bike ride, that is one less SUV on our local streets!”
As part of its support for the ride, BCHD will be bringing attention to its Streets for All campaign.
“We’re advocating for safe usage of the road for everyone, from cyclists and pedestrians to moms with strollers, kids walking to school and motorists too,” said BCHD spokesman Eric Garner. “We’re teaching all users of the road to safely coexist.”
For more information on meeting points and to register to ride, visit southbaybicyclecoalition.org.
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