SAMOHI — Students are improving upon a Santa Monica High School bicycling tradition, using the Web and free bikes to spark interest.
For several years, the Samohi Bike Coalition and the Samohi Solar Alliance clubs have hosted school-wide bike days every few months. The usual bike days involved a few hundred students using pedal power to get to school, with more joining in each time. The goal was to get students to stop using cars as their main source of transportation.
This time, the whole event is revamped. Now called Bike It Day, the event (and all the subsequent Bike It Days) is aimed at increasing participation so that eventually, Bike It Days will be car-free days on campus.
“This year, we want to put a lot more emphasis on kids out of cars,” said Richard McKinnon, chair of Bike It Day, which is scheduled for Oct. 21. “It’s environmentally safe, it’s one small step … we want to make it a big event.”
To make it easier for more students to participate, Samohi PTSA transportation chair Michael Cahn has been collecting donated bikes to give away to students who can’t afford them. He will be at the Michigan Avenue and Seventh Street campus entrance to receive bicycle donations from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 17.
“It’s all about getting to school without a car either by cycling or by walking or by bus,” Cahn said. “Just matching up unused bikes that are languishing in garages … making the bikes happy.”
All bicycles are welcome no matter what the condition. Depending on the required level of repairs, bicycles will either be fixed first or given to the students to fix up themselves.
“Two very rundown bikes can make one beautiful bike,” Cahn said.
Most of the bikes donated so far have only needed minor maintenance, such as inflating tires. They have helmets and one even has a lock.
McKinnon estimates that “there are literally hundreds of students at Santa Monica High School” who can’t afford a bike.
“Many people have bikes sitting in their garage that they’re not using anymore,” he said. McKinnon added that injured people or people with children in college may have bicycles to donate as well.
The donated bikes will probably be given away through Cahn’s bike safety class, held every Thursday after school in room T109.
“We were thinking of giving them away in a manner that would be related to the bike education class,” Cahn said. “We want someone who needs it but who will use it safely.”
Additionally, the Samohi Solar Alliance is planning to have principal Dr. Hugo Pedroza host a “pedal party” — a short ride around the school’s block at lunchtime, with Pedroza in the lead.
“Our purpose was basically to involve people … we want to get faculty on our side,” said club treasurer Elena Kivnick, a sophomore. “We wanted to involve [Pedroza] in some way, and it’s entertaining.”
Publicity for Bike It Day has also increased greatly. The recurring event now has a Web site at www.bike-it-day.org. An official invitation has been issued for Pedroza’s pedal party, and Cahn said “thinking ballots” will be placed on cars at Samohi sometime this week in an attempt to get drivers to think about traveling in greener ways.
“Last year we had a goal to get 400 bike riders in one day,” Kivnick said. “The car-free thing is an ultimate goal. The more people we have participating, the bigger the impact … we want to make it a reality for everyone.”