While other media organizations were sending crews to Cleveland to cover the news on Seymour Ave. last week, Bicycling magazine dispatched its Executive Editor David Howard "to see for himself if the buzz about Century Cycles’ Bike to School Challenge [was] for real."
In short, it was.
According to Howard's numbers, 1,316 total students rode to school last Wednesday (32 percent of total enrollment). Of the five competing schools, Bay Middle carried the torch, with 607 students (better than 70 percent) commuting by bike.
The challenge began back in 2007 when Bay High School students saw fit to "protest" soaring gasoline prices. Take that, big oil! (No comment from us, at this time, regarding what the nature of that protest says about students in Bay.)
At any rate, Century stepped in with organizational backing, and the annual event has been a suburban calling card ever since.
Bicycling's Howard, doing his best Gerard Manley Hopkins, paints an idyllic portrait:
The early-morning sunlight slanted in low and strong, stretching over the gunmetal gray of Lake Erie and reaching beyond the budding greenery of Cahoon Park to touch down on the small figures on bikes rolling along the sidewalks on the south side of Wolf Road.
Mmmmmm, suburbs: Where the landscape is "Netherlands-like" and the sun is gentle upon the wee pedaling cherubs.
Two Medina middle schools were also involved this year — no "budding greenery" to speak of down there — but they boasted only 10 and 16 percent participation, respectively. Maybe they'd be a bit more competitive if embattled Superintendent Randy Stepp were more focused on health and fitness instead of all his bonuses! Am I right???
Regardless of motive, though, the event had some encouraging outcomes. In 2012, about 4,000 kids pedaled more than 52,000 miles, reports Howard. Over the three-week challenge, "They burned about 885,428 calories while keeping roughly 57,292 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air as a result of 2,325 fewer gallons of gasoline being burned." Organizers estimate that the numbers will be higher in 2013.