A bike safety program is coming to Verona and for one lucky elementary school student it will mean a free bike. In the future, it could greatly expand biking to the middle school and high school here, just as it has in Montclair.
The program is called Bike 4 A Bike and it was started three years ago by Gerry Magrini and Joe Ewing of Montclair Bikery. The store has long run bike repair clinics and group rides (there’s even a new Friday morning group ride for women beginners!). But Bike 4 A Bike was created for kids: The goal of Magrini and Ewing, who now runs the program, was to build a better relationship between cyclists and drivers, promote a healthy lifestyle, keep kids off drugs and teach them cycling safety and rules of the road.
Here’s how the program works: Montclair middle school and high school students who ride their bikes to school between April1 and June 1 are entered in a lottery for a new bike each time they ride to (or from) school with one ticket earned per day. They have to have permission from their school principal and a permission form on file at the store. Then, every time they ride, they can pick up the ticket they earn at Montclair Bikery and put it in their school’s raffle bucket, or confirm their daily rides by sending a text message to the store or a Twitter posting. Participating students commit to the following: being honest about their reporting, following safe rules of the road, being courteous to pedestrians, and no use of drugs during the run of the program.
As encouragement along the way, students are rewarded for reaching certain levels of riding: 10 times earns them a water bottle, 20 times a lock and the program continues for additional prizes like a bike computer, a tune-up and a helmet.There are 43 days to ride, and the maximum number of points one can earn is 40. At the end of the program, the more times you’ve ridden to school, the better your chances for a new bike. The participating Montclair schools, which this year include the Renaissance and Glenfield middle schools and Edgemont and Nishuane elementary schools, as well as the Montclair Cooperative School, get a free 30-minute assembly on bike safety and rules. Additionally, the Bike 4 a Bike team goes to each school and sets up a table at lunch for kids to learn more about cycling.
While the program is designed mainly for middle school and high school students, primarily because of their self-sufficiency in tracking, Montclair Bikery is modifying it this year for students at Verona’s Laning Avenue School. On Wednesday, March 30, Joe Ewing and Verona resident Dave Adornato will bring a bike to school and teach the students all about cycling safety and the rules of the road. Then, on Friday, April 8, the students at Laning in kindergarten through 4th grade will participate in various biking activities and contests. There will be prizes including bike helmets, water bottles, bike computers, and yes, a free bike.
Montclair Bikery hopes to expand the program to more Verona schools in the future. To learn more about participating, click here.