Why Ride to School?

In our Bike to School survey, we asked Scarlett Students why they didn’t ride to school.

You told us it was too far, too cold, too hard, not convenient – and no one wanted to go to class with helmet head.

Riding to school might be all of those things. But it also might not be. You won’t know unless you give it a try.

Scarlett, wth circles showing 5 km and 10 km away. Where do you live?

5 km takes about 20 minutes

Depending on your route, and of course how fast you want to ride, most leisurely riders travel at about 20 km/hour. Cycle commuters don’t need to ride hard, or sweat or even wear different clothes than what they’d wear at school.

Micheal McNish, 23, rode his bike about 20 minutes to get to William Aberhart High School. He then rode to the University of Calgary as he completed his civil engineering degree.

“The only extra piece of clothing I’d wear is a pair of gloves when I would bike to school or work,” says McNish. “I’d wear what I was wearing rest of the day for classes. It was usually a 20 minute ride. If I was late, I would go as fast as I could, and might get sweaty, but otherwise I planned for a leisurely ride.”

You don’t need a schedule to ride

While we know Covid has made school different for students, we sure hope that at some point, there will be school sports, clubs, extra help and tutoring. This can mean the express bus from your neighbourhood might not be that convenient. There’s no flexibility with those bus schedules.

“It was pretty freeing, being able to ride where and when I wanted. I could get places, and didn’t have to rely on parents or waiting for the bus,” says McNish.

At UofC, McNish really enjoyed a course on traffic engineering. They learned how planning engineers design roads for vehicle capacity and traffic. But it was a guest speaker who came to class that spoke about transportation design for all kinds of mobility – pedestrians, bikes, scooters, wheelchairs that piqued his interest.

“This speaker really opened my mind to the broad range of design work that needs to be done to create spaces to work with all of these different modes. ” McNish pursued a minor in transportation planning. He’s also an active Bike Calgary volunteer. His goal is to use his degree to help create better communities for everyone .

McNish in Bilbao, Spain, where he spent 8 months on a work term, and where he also rode his bike to work – with a lot of his colleagues. Biking is the way to get around that city.

Michael’s Advice to students

As a veteran, McNish has this advice for those thinking of riding:

  1. Get on bike and do it. It’s fun.
  2. Don’t’ worry about equipment, clothes, or your bike. Feel free to just go. It’s simpler than people think.
  3. Buy a good bike lock.
Here’s Michael in our Road Safety Video