CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Dozens of kids ditched the bus and grabbed their bikes Wednesday morning as part of National Bike to School Day.
The students showed up bright and early to the community garden on Dunlavin Way in Charlotte. From there, they biked, walked and “scooted” their way to class at Shamrock Gardens Elementary School.
“It was nice to see all our friends from different grades and have a little time to spend with them before the day started," said Leo Walton, who rode a tandem bike with his father.
First-grader Liam Manion says he’s ridden his bike to school many times, but it was nice to be joined by so many of his classmates.
“The best part of it for me is just seeing all these people being happy,” said Manion. “It means a lot because it gets you ready and gets you prepared for what you’ll do at school today.”
Mecklenburg County Public Health partnered with the Charlotte Department of Transportation, Vision Zero of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Shamrock Gardens Elementary School, and the community to make the day happen.
It is a part of the county’s Safe Routes to School program, designed to increase awareness about cyclist and pedestrian safety.
Something one parent, Crystal Manion, says the Country Club Heights neighborhood has been working on extensively for the past year.
“We want to show a presence so that the drivers will slow down, they’ll see us, and acknowledge that, hey, there are kids going to school here,” said Manion.
However, the program has several goals besides cycling and pedestrian safety, aiming to raise awareness about traffic congestion, concern for the environment, and building connections between families and the communities.
Something another Shamrock Gardens Elementary student, Leo Walton, agrees with, as he rode a tandem bike with his dad.
“And it was nice to see all our friends from different grades and, have a little time to spend with them before the day started,” said Walton.
The riders and walkers were also treated to ice cold water bottles, arm bands and other cool gear at the finish line.
Crystal Manion, a leader in the Country Club Heights Neighborhood Association, says the walk/bike to school is something they’re hoping to plan every first Wednesday of each month.
“I think it’s so fun," said Manion. "I love when I’m passing neighbors coming to and from or other neighbors walking their dogs. It’s just a great community feel.”