Julian is one lucky 10-year-old. Why? He lives close to a bike path in the suburbs outside of Burlington, VT. That would be cool enough on its own, but this particular bike path just happens to connect right to the elementary school he attends, which means he gets to bike to school. A lot. It’s the best.
“It takes less than 10 minutes to get to school,” he said, “I just throw my stuff in my backpack and go. It’s way funner than riding the bus.”
We couldn’t agree more, Julian. In fact, the whole family (mom, dad, and three boys) got into biking in 2019. Julian, the oldest, began riding to school in the third grade. Do we know what kind of bike he has? If Schwinn, it would be great to mention.
While we know biking to school isn’t an option for every kid, we think it’s a great opportunity for those who can. And we’ve got all sorts of reasons why.
It teaches self-reliance
As an educator herself, Julian’s mom Alexis wishes all kids could have the opportunity to ride their bikes to school.
“I like the independence he gains,” she says. “He gets up in the morning and knows what he needs to bring to school, when he needs to leave, and knows how to estimate the time it will take.”
Plus, Alexis added, all that independence inspires him to keep track of and take to take good care of the bike itself. Way to go Julian! Pretty soon he might even be doing routine bike maintenance all by himself too.
It’s a great way to start the day
Morning exercise comes with a host of benefits, chief among them is a boost of energy and reducing fatigue.
“As a teacher, I know kids who are active before coming to school seem a little more centered, a little more eager to learn,” Alexis said. “You can’t overlook the importance of starting the day off being outside and using some of that energy in a positive way.”
Starting the morning with a bike ride of 15-20 minutes is enough for young riders to get in the right frame of mind to tackle the challenges of the upcoming school day.
It can help build relationships
Many kids who ride their bikes to school do so with a small group of friends from their neighborhood. Positive small peer groups can be essential in building community and help children learn a wide range of social and emotional skills.
In Julian’s case, he usually rides to school with his friend Harrison. But that’s not the only friend he’s made as a result of biking.
“Julian would wait for Harrison by the bike rack after school,” said Julian’s third-grade teacher, Rebecca M. “He’d use that time to play with other kids while other students that he normally sees during the course of a school day. He got to know a lot of other kids that way.”
It eases traffic congestion
Have you ever tried to pick your kid up in a vehicle just as school gets out? Super traffic jam ever single time, right? Biking to and from school is a great way to get around that.
Luckily, many schools give walkers and bike riders a first crack at leaving school and crossing guards help ensure those who get dismissed the earliest have a clear exit.
Sitting in traffic – in a car or school bus – can be frustrating and boring. Riding a bike home can be fun and downright rewarding. Plus, more kids on bikes means fewer kids needing to get picked up, and thus fewer cars in the queue. That’s a win-win if we’ve ever seen one.
It plants sustainability seeds
Admittedly, it’s impossible for every school child in the United States to rode their bike to school, but just for a moment, imagine the positive environmental impact if they did.
School-aged kids riding to school each day may not result in a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but it certainly doesn’t add to the problem. More importantly, it helps reinforce a thoughtful, environmentally friendly mindset in the next generation of cyclists who will have to contend with the effects of a warming climate.
Another bonus? It can turn young riders into lifelong proponents of cycling. Those who learn to love biking at a younger age are more likely to become adults who advocate for bike-friendly communities and support initiatives like building additional bike lanes and bike paths.
And in the end, just as our young friend Julian said, biking is just “Way funner than riding the bus.”
To find the best bike for your child this upcoming school year, check out our wide assortment of kids’ bikes. Also, be sure to check out our other posts for tips on biking to school and teaching your child to ride.