Safe Routes Scoop
Back-to-School, Bike-to-School

After Earth Day, each Wednesday for the rest of the school year becomes walk- or bike-to-school Wednesday. Spiers takes part by meeting children at a local park one half hour before classes begin and walking with them to school.

 

In Fair Haven, “Transition Day” has been an annual part of the school year for so long that the staff of Viola L. Sickles School can’t remember when it all got started. Principal Turner, who has been a part of the tradition for the last 10 years, joins her graduating 3rd graders on the last day of school, jumping on their bicycles for a ceremonial ride over to the Knollwood School to mark the transition to 4th grade. Parents, police and the school superintendent all take part in this annual event. Along the route, parents hold up signs to celebrate their child’s completion of the 3rd grade and at the Knollwood School, 4th graders welcome the arriving group with songs. The special events in Linwood and Fair Haven help to make biking to school an important and fun part of life.

 

Ensuring Safety through

Sound Policy

The safety of children biking to school is a primary concern in each of these communities. Children in Wharton, Linwood, Fair Haven, and Medford Lakes understand that biking to school is a privilege, one that can be

taken away if they don’t follow the school safety rules.

 

In New Jersey, it’s the law that all children under 17 must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. In support of the law, Principal Turner in Fair Haven requires parents give their children permission to bike to school by signing an emergency card. Children must pledge to wear helmets and parents must acknowledge that helmets are mandatory; should a child be caught riding without a helmet, their bike will be held by the principal until their parent comes to pick it up. Similarly, children in Lebanon (Hunterdon County) must bring their bikes and helmets to school for an inspection and attend a bicycle safety program. Students must also have their parents sign a permission slip before they are able to ride to school.

 

Repeated offenses cause biking privileges to be suspended. In Wharton and Medford Lakes, children not only are required to register to bike to school, they must also sign a safety pledge. As part of this pledge, the children promise to follow all the school rules regarding bike safety and to always wear a helmet. While Superintendent Richard Bitondo admits enforcement can sometimes be a challenge, bike privileges have been taken away from students in the past, showing students that the Wharton schools are serious about safety.

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