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Bike It! Day Returns to Santa Monica  

By Jason Islas
Special to the Lookout

May 31, 2011 – Santa Monica students, with the help of city officials and the Santa Monica Police Department, are getting ready to cap off the school year with Bike It! Day.

Wednesday's event is a district-wide initiative to get students to either ride their bikes, take the bus or walk to school, instead of driving or being dropped off in cars by their parents.

Last October's Bike It! Day saw over 3,000 students bike, bus or walk to school, according to event chair and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Richard McKinnon. Almost 800 of them were on bikes, he said.

McKinnon anticipates that Wednesday will see even greater numbers.

Students from Santa Monica High School and SMASH met with McKinnon and representatives from Sustainable Streets, the city and the Santa Monica Police Department last Wednesday to discuss the logistics of keeping students safe during “Bike It! Day.”

One of their biggest concerns was the 7th Street and Michigan Avenue intersection, the east entrance to the Samohi campus.

“It's an unhealthy mix of cars and kids,” McKinnon said of the intersection.

To handle the influx of students on Michigan Avenue, SMPD Youth Services Officer Carlos Jaen said that traffic cones could be set up to create a bike lane on Michigan Avenue, a measure that successfully guided students safely through traffic during the last “Bike It! Day.”

“It's so nice to have a dedicated lane at Michigan,” said Jenna Perelmann, a student chair of Samohi's Solar Alliance.

Office Jaen also said that he would see about having two officers on bicycles at the intersection to help direct traffic and offer an example to students.

Transportation Planning Associate Peter Dzewaltowski said that city staff would also be on hand to help direct traffic.

SAMOHI, though a big participant in Bike It! Day, won't be the only school involved.

Gabriel Schier, a student at SMASH middle school and president of the SMASH Bike Club, was also at Wednesday's meeting.

“I think we'll have a lot of kids,” Schier said, but added that SMASH has a very small amount of bike parking available.

Dzewaltowksi said that the City has mobile bike racks that they will be able to set up for SMASH students.

Other measures are being taken to make sure that students who participate in “Bike It! Day” do so safely.

Bike It! Day organizers are working with the PTSAs of Santa Monica schools in order to get parent volunteers to help out with directing traffic and other logistical issues.

Allison Kendall and Dr. Michael Cahn with Sustainable Streets said that they have plenty of cheap helmets for kids to buy.

The “Bike It! Day” website ( also has a map of safe routes to school, so that students can plan the best way to travel on Wednesday.

This will be Santa Monica's fifth “Bike It! Day.”

“Bike It! Day” has its roots in a bike to school day organized by Solar Alliance for Samohi students in 2009. With McKinnon's help, the group launched the first district-wide Bike It! Day last year.


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