New Jersey Walk and Bike to School Month was celebrated with schools and communities participating in walk and bike to school days, walking school buses, walking contests and competitions as well as bike rodeos. Here are some summaries from the Safe Routes to School Regional Coordinators from our other four Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) from across the state — Greater Mercer TMA, Keep Middlesex Moving TMA, Hudson TMA and Meadowlink TMA. Click here to read summaries from the other four TMA’s (Cross County Connection, HART, TransOptions, Ridewise). What did your school and community do for NJ April Walk and Bike to School Month?
Greater Mercer TMA had one of its busiest seasons yet. After 17 bicycle and pedestrian safety assembly programs, activities were not just numerous, but unique. A student-designed bookmark contest, bicycle/pedestrian safety quiz wheel, and a bike maintenance clinic encompassed a large number of school-wide assemblies and outreach events.
Greater Mercer received over 300 entries in its second annual bookmark design contest. This year’s theme, “My Favorite Place to Walk/Bike Is…” really sparked imagination in the entries. Ultimately, four winners were selected and the bookmarks were professionally printed. Great pride was exhibited by the winners, and it was a treat to recognize their accomplishments. Runner-ups received a certificate of recognition and a bicycle safety kit complete with a helmet, bike lights, and safety vest.
Special guests appeared at many of the events. Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert greeted students three different mornings in Princeton. Several school principals were on hand to assist awarding bookmark winners. Trenton Thunder mascot Boomer gave high-fives while greeting Martin Luther King students in Trenton and Riverside Elementary school students in Princeton.
April’s events provided wonderful community exposure. There was a Greater Mercer TMA table at Communiversity, a Princeton event that draws over 40,000 people annually. Greater Mercer premiered
their environmental quiz wheel that incorporated questions about anti-idling, air quality and benefits of walking and bicycling to school at the Montgomery Earth Day Fair. Trenton youth were treated to a community fair on their spring break where GMTMA promoted healthy behavior and positive recreation activities like walking and bicycling to school.
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Second Life Bikes from Asbury Park assisted with an after-school bicycle clinic on Bay Head Elementary’s lawn. Mechanics were on hand to instruct participants about tire pressure, maintenance tips, and bicycle part inspections. Students gained a new appreciation for bike care and were thrilled to turn wrenches and dig in.
During safety assemblies at various schools throughout Mercer County, student “cars” obeyed traffic laws to enable the walker to cross. It was a great month of Walk and Bike to School activities in Mercer and Ocean Counties!
Hudson TMA ran its Golden Sneaker Contest in many schools throughout Bayonne, Jersey City and North Bergen. The Golden Sneaker program has two parts. It first begins with a mileage counting walking contest between all classes in the second and third grades of a participating school. Each school has its own contest and does not compete against other schools. The desire to win the Golden Sneaker trophy incentivizes the children to walk to school every day. The second part of the program is an interactive discussion with the children on walking routes to school and how to do so safely.
Bike Safety Assemblies comprised of a discussion on biking with an interactive quiz show on biking safely to school was conducted in schools in Bayonne, Jersey City, West New York, Union City and North Bergen. April Walk and Bike to School Month was busy in Hudson County!
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Keep Middlesex Moving (KMM) TMA supported some exciting events for NJ Walk and Bike to School Month this April. KMM along with Safe Kids Middlesex County distributed bicycle helmets and bike safety information at New Brunswick Ciclovia, an open streets event that closed streets to traffic and opened them to bicyclists and walkers to build a culture of health and healthy transportation in New Brunswick’s neighborhoods.
Two hundred students at Watchung Elementary School in Middlesex Borough participated in a Walk and Bike Safety Assembly, preparing the students for their annual 2nd and 3rd grade bike rodeo in June.
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At the Raritan Bay Area YMCA in Perth Amboy, YMCA Healthy Kids Day featured a bike rodeo run by KMM, YMCA staff, and some great volunteers!
With a full schedule of assembly presentations, events and bike rodeos in May and June, April was a great a great “warm up” for walk and bike safety education in Middlesex County to finish this school year!
Meadlowlink TMA services schools and communities throughout Bergen, Essex, Monmouth, Passaic and Union Counties. Montclair’s Bradford School kicked off Walk-to-School Wellness Wednesday on April 1, 2015 to celebrate NJ Walk & Bike to School month. Two other schools, Charles H. Bullock School and Edgemont Montessori School, also held walking events to encourage children to get moving this spring. While Montclair’s children and parents walk off their winter blues, they started to gear up for National Bike Month in May.
In the City of Paterson, one school joined New Jersey’s pedestrian celebration by holding its first walking event on April 28, 2015. School #28’s organized a Walk Party that included the entire student body with a walk around the school grounds in support of healthy and active transportation. They set up large speakers and walked along to the music. Each student expressed his or her own commitment to walking by personalizing a sneaker and signing the school’s Walk-to-School Banner. Based on the Walk Party’s success, this event will be the first of many.
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Two Pedestrian Safety events took place in Bergen County during New Jersey’s Walk & Bike to School Month. Safe Kids Bergen County invited Meadowlink for a day of assemblies at Brookside Elementary School in Westwood, where children learned how to properly stop, look, listen, and most importantly – think. Meadowlink also visited Garfield’s James Madison School #10 with the same safety message. The Safe Routes to School team talked to students at both schools about being safe while walking, especially on the way to school.
Students at Hillside School in Allendale, NJ participated in Walk to School Day by meeting in pods of Walking School Buses to travel together by foot on the way to school. The students had the opportunity to be escorted to school by administrators, local officials and law enforcement personnel on their journey. Members of the school’s Environmental Club also distributed stickers that read, “I walked to school today with kids around the globe.” In hopes to invigorate the students for New Jersey’s very own Walk and Bike to School Month, Brookdale Elementary promoted Trek to School Thursday throughout the month of April. On the morning of April 23RD, the school principal, parents and a large number of students took to the streets in Bloomfield to share the journey to school together with friends.
Superintendent Rocco Tomazic invited Meadowlink to Freehold to host two Pedestrian Safety Presentations that were well received by both the students and teachers. Children were presented with a SRTS bookmark along with “What we learned today” information for the parents explaining SRTS programs in both English and Spanish.
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In partnership with Monmouth County Health Dept., Monmouth Medical Center, Asbury Park Police Department and Second Life Bikes, students at Thurgood Marshall Elementary and Obama Elementary Schools in Asbury Park were encouraged to dedicate an afternoon to bicycle skills and safety. Free helmets were fitted and provided to students along with a Bike Rodeo where students could learn and master important bicycle safety skills to assist them when they bike to school. Students received education and practiced cycling skills while a Bike Repair Station staffed by Second Life Bikes of Asbury Park repaired bikes and pumped many flat tires!
NJ Walk and Bike to School Month in April was filled with many activities and events celebrating and promoting students to walk and bike to school! If you don’t see your school or community listed contact a SRTS Regional Coordinator covering your community who can assist with a walking and bicycling to school event!