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Belding Elementary: biking support starts at top

This blog post is part of our series chronicling our work with Healthy CPS. Read more about the project here.

In Chicago, a number of schools participating in the Healthy CPS Safe Routes to School initiative have been models for promoting bike use throughout the school year.

One of those schools is Belding Elementary, serving the Mayfair and Old Irving Park neighborhoods on the Northwest Side of Chicago.

As is the case with many successful Safe Routes to School programs, the support started at the top. Principal Heather Yutzy worked hard promoting encouragement events and asking parents to teach kids about safe bicycling through the school’s monthly newsletter.

The school community was also asked to participate in Walking Wednesdays, where students and staff are encouraged to travel to school on foot.

One of the highlights of the year was Wellness Week, held in May. This included a Bike to School Day event, which received support from a Whole Foods grocery store, and a bicycle rodeo facilitated by Active Trans.

The rodeo (pictured above) included a brief safety presentation and allowed children an opportunity to practice safe bicycling skills. Volunteers from a Target store were in attendance to assist with the rodeo, attended by some 85 students and many of their parents.

The event also showcased the school’s newly designated bicycle storage facility, which was piloted last winter by a few ardent student cyclists. Students from the school's safety patrol open and close the storage area. Sometimes, simply designating a place where children can safely leave their bicycles can encourage more biking to school.

Nice work, Belding!

Contact us at for resources and technical assistance on encouraging riding to school.