by Charlotte . . .
As one of our principal goals, the SaMoHi Solar Alliance (SSA) works to reduce our school’s carbon footprint through encouraging positive green behavioral changes in the SaMoHi student body and community. Currently, our largest campaign is Bike Day – a day in which we encourage students to get to and from school using alternative forms of transportation– such as walking, bicycling, skate boarding, and using public transit.
Using a carbon calculator, we determined that Samohi could prevent approximately 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere if every student and administrator rode his or her bike once a week.
Since our initial event in October of 2007, we have seen a tremendous increase in not only the number of Bike Day participants, but also in the number of students biking and using other forms of alternative transportation on a daily basis. The numbers have increased from an average of twelve bikes in the school bike racks on any given day in 2007 to an average of about 30 at the start of 2009. On Bike Days the numbers swell to over 100 student bikers and participants.
To encourage students to take part in Bike Days, SSA has set up a system of initiatives – offering free popsicles to all participants and raffles for prizes that range from donated bike bells and helmets to actual bikes. The event has grown into our school’s culture as students begin to anticipate the next Bike Day events.
Working recently with Samohi PTSA, we drafted a Bike Day/Bike Safety Proposition for Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) that the school board recently passed – expanding bike safety, education, and access throughout the district. The proposition also called for a district-wide Bike.
At this point in time, Bike It! has experienced a transition to the district-wide Bike It! Walk It! Day. The district’s sensation has been driven by students and PTSA members. SSA students have given presentations at the middle schools in order to encourage students on the benefits of biking and alternative transportation. In June 2011, the success of the two district wide Bike It! Days in 2010-2011 school year got SSA a school district commendation, Santa Monica City youth commendation, and a Presidential Environmental Youth Award presented from President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency. With this publicity, Bike It! Day has grown as a well-known and well-appreciated SMMUSD event including all schools willing to participate.
As one young woman joyfully exclaims, “The best thing about riding a bike is waking up.”