By Kathy McLeod, Bike Train Conductor
It was a cold day but everyone was dressed warmly. The children, with their adult leaders kept moving and stayed together in a group the whole way. They arrived at school exhilarated from their ride and fully awake and ready to learn.
It’s a typical Wednesday in Tiburon as children gather at various stops and join the Tiburon Bike Train. Last October, The Town of Tiburon launched a pilot program to run bike trains along the old Rail Trail from downtown Belvedere/Tiburon to Bel Aire School. Adult Cycling "Conductors" from Wheel Escape and Volunteers escort and support the students to school every Wednesday. The program is managed by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.
The Tiburon Bike Train started on International Walk and Bike to School Day with over 200 students. By the next week winter was well on its way. It’s colder and darker and usually our Bel Aire Elementary School bike riders dwindle down to the hard core but passionate riders. The Bike Train is inspiring to children that would never have gotten started, let alone continue if it wasn’t for our consistency and encouragement. We follow the rules of the road and the kids are learning all about where to be when they have to take the road. The drivers have been extremely courteous and many are waving and cheering us on. It is nice to know we have a cheering section!! Almost 50 students have now registered. They are having fun learning the route, skills, meeting friends and getting great exercise before school which has been proven to raise test scores!
Last month, the participants caught a glimpse of Mother Nature's Food Chain Parade in and on Richardson Bay: Spawning herring attracted gulls, greebes, merganzers, mallards, buffleheads, sandpipers, egrets, herons, and even sea lions!
The Bike Train is also spawning independent bike trains. One group of seven friends meets at Blackies to ride on their own. Another group of 20 has started up on Reed Ranch Rd. There are more kids riding from Belvedere that we see following behind us or in front of us! The groups of five to seven coming from Blackfield Drive and the Cove Apartments have inspired change for a safe way across Tiburon Blvd.
Rain or Shine, we wake up and start the day together, rolling merrily along, past all our feathered friends. The Bike Train runs from downtown Tiburon/Belvedere to Bel Aire School every Wednesday morning starting at 7:15 am. Participation is free and Reed School District residents can join the bike train by registering here
We always have our core leadership group. Their presence on the bike path is a reminder to all that we are out there for anyone else to join in each week and that anyone can start biking with their own bike trains! So far so good as many kids don't even wait around till Wednesday. They are out there every day with friends riding to school.
Every one of these children have great attitudes. They know they are setting an example. They are patient and encourage each other. I can tell they are proud to be "the kids who ride their bikes to school."
For more information on the Bike Train click here
In addition to escorting children on the Bike Train Wheel Escape also offers afterschool bike clubs.
Kathy Mcleod runs Wheel Escape; is a Bike Train Conductor; League Cycling Instructor; a volunteer for Safe Routes to School; and supervises the crossing guard program in Southern Marin.