Launching the Bike to School Project

Bike Calgary is very excited to launch our Bike to School Pilot Project at Dr. EP Scarlett High School. Thanks to a number of Bike Calgary volunteers, we installed new bike racks at the school last week. (Just before the snow!). We’re hoping that with some education, support and perhaps a few useful swag items, we can get a few more of students to think about bikes as a mode of transportation.

volunteers install bike racks
Volunteers Bill and Doug secure loaner bike racks at Dr. EP Scarlett

Scarlett is a natural place to start our program. With over 1,500 students, only 10 students ride bikes regularly. This despite that the fact that about half the student population lives within 6kms of the school. The location of the school, with a single main access road, means that traffic before and after school is congested. Students suggest it often takes 20 minutes just to get out of the school parking lot!

About 250 Scarlett students filled out a detailed survey to help us understand the barriers that stop them from riding. We learned that 85% had a bike but only 10% of students walked or rode to school. More than 40% drove, or were driven.  Weather, route-finding, lack of equipment, unsafe routes and pathway fragments were all identified as barriers, as well as helmet, lack of storage and the social aspect of transit. For some, it’s the only time they see their friends from the neighbourhood. Almost 30% said they’d consider riding to school, but that number jumped to 60% if they could get school credit for doing it.

We learned students are open to riding, but there are some issues. So, we’ll work to break down those obstacles. The project web page is where we’ll build a library of supports specifically for Scarlett students.  We’ll also have a good conversation with the City, the Community, and other partners to fix some of the infrastructure issues for students as part of this project. 

C-Can, donated by the C-Can Store installed at school

The next phase of the project is to get our fleet of bikes loaded into the C-Can, and that was also installed on school property last week. Thanks to a generous donation from the C-Can Store, we have weatherproof secure storage for our fleet. Students will be able to sign a bike out to try commuting. As well, physical education teachers will have access to the bikes for group rides and excursions. This way, students can try out riding and teachers will have access to new, Covid-friendly programming for their classes. 

We’ve received a fleet of about 20 used bikes from Two Wheel View and other generous donators. They are now being serviced by Joe’s Garage and once road-ready, they’ll go to the C-Can at the school for use by students. In the spring, we are planning a celebration of cycling day so stay tuned for that. 

bikes in a storage location
Bikes at Joe’s, ready for work

To help get these bikes ready, we received a super donation from Canada’s leading bike accessory company, HLC – including locks, helmets, lights and bags for books. What we don’t need for bikes, will go to students to encourage riding.

We’re very excited about this program – it’s a concrete way Bike Calgary is making a difference in our city – and hopefully encouraging a new generation of riders. 

How can you help?  

Make a donation: We need funding and support specially for this project. Funds will go to purchasing helmets, locks, gear, prizes and incentives for students.

As far as gear or hardware goes, we are on the hunt for a few more bikes – in good shape, ideally with fenders and racks. (Textbooks are heavy!) – and sturdy locks, bells and lights. There may be other opportunities to help as we move forward past the pilot project. Please reach out to Laura at laura@bikecalgary.org or through connect@bikecalgary.org

Donors and supporters

Already, we’ve had great support from a range of organizations. Thanks to all for getting on board early. We look forward to sharing our success.

  • Bike Calgary: Volunteers and initial financial support
  • Graham Construction: Logistics and Storage
  • City of Calgary: Bike Rack loan
  • Two Wheel View: Used bikes for our fleet
  • Joe’s Garage: Bike Repair
  • Ever Active Schools: Support and shared knowledge
  • C-Can Store: Provided free loan of C-Can for bike storage at schools
  • HLC: Provided $3,000 in gear to encourage students and outfit our fleet
  • Dr. EP Scarlett High School Parent Council and Parent Association
  • EP Scarlett principal Shari Goodfellow and school administration

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