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Editor's blog: Biking to school

I am plagued by guilt. I live in Boulder where even on zero-degree days, you see people biking to work wearing down jackets and ski goggles over their helmets.

My confession: We are a family of fair weather cyclists. Our small garage is filled with bikes yet we struggle finding the gumption to bike to school on a regular basis even though it’s less than a mile away.

I love biking (when I actually get myself on the thing) and have gotten into road biking over the past few years. Last year, I rode my bike across the state of Iowa with my two crazy sisters, for goodness sake. (For some good laughs, check out Ragbrai, the world’s largest organized bicycle tour. I guess it’s the cycling equivalent of the Bolder Boulder but spread out over an entire week and across an entire, cornstalk-filled state.)

My daughter enjoys riding, too. It’s just the morning thing, and the scheduling thing, that get in our way.

Morning madness

Let’s talk about mornings. How you people with multiple kids get anyone out the door at a fixed time is amazing to me. I just don’t know how you do it! We have one kid – and it’s almost impossible to get out the door without some kind of emotional meltdown or anxiety attack.

First, there’s the ignoring the alarm problem (me). I can close my eyes for just a couple more minutes, can’t I? I won’t fall asleep. Fifteen, 20 minutes later…”Oh nooooo!!!!” followed by a sprint to the coffee pot, a stumble to my daughter’s room to wake her, her grouchiness over not finding the right leggings, my frantic attempt to make lunch, her desire to watch a Pink Panther re-run, the finicky-ness of the TV remote, the order in which she must eat the oatmeal (it’s not that sweet so she has to eat it first, before the honey/peanut butter toast or the oatmeal tastes bland), the waking of the husband to make some eggs (we need protein!), and finally, the push to turn off the TV, brush teeth and get shoes on. Oh, I almost forgot about the the uh-oh-I’m-not-dressed-yet mom. Then, the hustle to the car. (Please don’t stone me!).

Scheduling snafus

Then there’s the scheduling problem. Mondays and Fridays a babysitter picks up our daughter from school. She drives. So our daughter doesn’t bike on those days. Tuesday’s Girl Scouts, and I pick her up. We drive. Thursday’s a play date at a friend’s house. We drive.

It just seems so much easier, but is it? Is it making our lives better to be in the car so much? I actually don’t think so. It’s a big, bad habit.

That’s why it’s great when schools and districts plan things like Bike to School Day, which was held Friday across the Boulder Valley School District to coincide with Earth Day. I was bound and determined to ride. We all jumped on our bikes and cycled to school, passing other walkers and bikers on the way. It was chilly but invigorating.

As a reward, she got a red, silicon bracelet provided by that says “I matter. Feed me well!”, a reflective sticker for her helmet and a dried fruit twist. By 7:55 a.m. a party atmosphere enveloped the school. The bike racks were overflowing, parent volunteers registered kids for prizes and handed out goodies. The kids were, needless to say, completely psyched. I made special arrangements with the babysitter, who dropped her car at our house and walked to school to pick our daughter up so they could come home together, one walking, one on a bike. She seemed happy to participate in the special Earth Day event.

The cure

When my husband and I returned home, I figured out how we did it, and why we haven’t been late to school for weeks now (and I thought it was my good parenting).

My husband confessed that he changed all the clocks ahead five minutes.

Guess what? It worked. And we may just hop on our bikes again next week.

If you’re in a similar position and would like to find ways to bike or walk more frequently to school, check out this EdNews Parent story about that very subject. Or get more safe school travel tips.

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