Student Voice: Biking to School

By Arshia Verma (Newton South, Class of 2023), Oct 2019 – 

What is a fun alternative to going to school independently, that is healthy and fun? Biking! Biking to school in Massachusetts is safe according to the state rankings by League of American Bicyclists, since our state is ranked fourth in the U.S. Newton encourages biking by students, and Newton Public Schools (NPS) have shown it by adding bike racks at its schools, which supports healthy habits and climate action. 

The increase of bike racks in 12 out of the 21 schools in Newton has created a lot of buzz, since biking can address climate issues, fix overcrowding buses, and is a healthier option for getting to school. This active transportation has become more supported in students lives due to the increase in bike racks installed in Newton by NPS. Bike Newton – a non-profit 501C3 organization that aims to promote bicycling as a viable method of transportation in Newton – helped paying for bike sheds at the two High Schools.  

A few years ago, Newton embarked on a strategy to make bicycles a desirable option of transportation, be it for commuting or pleasure. Bicycle parking facilities have provided at nodal centers such as major institutions, villages, public buildings, and key transit locations. Now, schools have more options to park their bikes in schools too! Students, of any age, can ride their bike to school and lock them up safely in their designated areas and commute back on their bike when school is over with no hassles. The bike racks creates a feasible way to keep bikes at school and it ensures their safety. 

Newton South High School, one of the two high schools in Newton, has a trial pedestrian path, which is a pathway for students going to school by walking or biking safely. The school is prioritizing students safety and this is another significant reason to travel by bike. According to NPS facilities, “A Phase 1 Trial of safety and circulation improvements was completed at Newton South using flex posts and paint. The trial includes the addition of a separated bike/walk lane from Brandeis Road and also shrinks the entrance and exits with flex posts at the main parent drop-off area to create a more controlled environment. This will be monitored closely and we will look to make further improvements in the future. Principal Stembridge will be handling the communication with staff and students about these improvements.” (Source: Facilities Memo to School Committee – 9-04-19). 

The aim is to ensure the safety and selected spots for bikes and bikers, to decrease emissions released into the air, creating a cleaner atmosphere, and to promote a healthy transportation alternative. 

The bike racks installed in Newton Public Schools have followed the “signs of success” Massachusetts thrives in to follow their criteria for what “biker-friendly” looks like. It’s efficient for parents and students, and makes a better impact in the atmosphere. Give a kid their independence, give them a bike.