Town Square

MV in desperate need of bike rack

Original post made by Kristin Hugo, Monte Vista High School, on Apr 4, 2007

Traffic, gas prices, and laziness among students. Car prices, insurance, and automobile accidents. It's not been only a few times that I have asked myself the question "Why does everyone drive to school?"

"I would have no problem biking to school, except I have no place to park my bike," confessed one sophomore Monte Vista student.

Buying and placing a bike rack is not expensive, time consuming, or difficult. A good rack can cost as little as $200, and imagine how Mother Nature would thank us if that much was put forth to this cause.

Another problem presented is that many students are just so used to driving, they wouldn't think to go to the corner of their own street without their beloved Toyota.

What the students need is a reminder, not that the world is a terrible place doomed to be burned by the emissions of their own transportation devices, but of how they themselves can help to lower gas usage on a daily basis.

Most students do not live too far to bike to school, especially in the coming of the Dougherty Valley High School to be functional next year. Many students live close enough that they could get to school in an hour or less on a bicycle. Also, that is not the only option-for those with their legs still functional; one could walk, roller blade, skateboard, or scooter to school with no problems.

If the morality lesson does not strike the students, nor does the list of reasons listed in the first sentence of this article, perhaps a quid pro quo is in order. If students were offered PE credit to bike to school, then they might see the positive implications of such a decision.

While the new parking lot is appreciated by many, what we need is not more accommodation for gasoline-powered vehicles, but inspiration and opportunity for students who are a little less superficial, and a little more caring about the environment.


Posted by Dolores, editor
a resident of Danville
on Apr 5, 2007 at 11:39 am

That does indeed sound alarming. I called MVHS and talked to assistant principal Matt Chamberlain who told me the school does have a bike rack behind the 900 Science Building, as well as spaces where students can lock up their bikes, such as fences. He said he knows some students do ride their bikes and lock their bikes up accordingly and he has never heard of it being a problem.

I love your idea about giving PE credit to kids who ride their bikes to school, although I guess it might depend on the distance. And I like to think that today's kids are environmentally conscious so maybe it will catch on!

Posted by natalie o'neill
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2007 at 6:36 pm

My bet is that kids drive to school because there is somewhat of a high school status/popularity element that comes with having your own car. If you're 16 and you just got your driver's license, you probably want to show it off.

I remember it was like that when I was in high school - a car was a symbol of teenage freedom. No more hitching rides from the parents. Ironically now, as I commute to Danville for my nine to five, I am incredibly aware how much more free I would feel on my bike!

If PE credit and environmental benefits aren't enough to get kids on their bikes, how about this for incentive: biking makes you feel good.

In San Francisco, the biker crowd is really hip, eco-friendly and stylish. I wonder if there's any way to get the trend started in suburbia. Make biking as "cool" as driving and maybe we've got our answer.

Posted by Hal Bailey
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 6, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Dear Dolores and Natalie,

You have reflected the reality of high school.

In Napa, in 1958 and 1959, I use to ride my bike to high school, but stored it a nearby friend's house. I had a farm license since I was 14 and already hated driving and cars in general, and thoroughly enjoyed my self-built mountain bike and the freedom it offered.

As things change, they change little.

Excellent exchange, but let's get Monte Vista students to give their views in a Streetwise on their campus.

Good idea?


Posted by Kristin Hugo
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Apr 7, 2007 at 9:16 pm

Dalores is right-there is a bike rack actually, literally at the very back of the school. I counted four bikes there the other day. As for parking at fences-I've never seen a student able to think that far outside of the box. A designated space is the only way, I think.

I have an idea to get the students motivated, if the PE credits system isn't applied, or before it is: Ride-your-bike-to-school week. This would work by designating a spot for where students can park, and an administrator would sign a card each day they do. At the end of the week, they could trade in the signed card for a free snow cone, or something. Because, as sad as it is, it would be nearly impossible to convince the students to do something just because it's good for themselves and the environment.

After this week, hopefully some students will learn from their experience about the liberation and the fitness that they feel, and continue to do it. After the week is over, the bulletin could mention “thank you for participating, and this is a reminder that the designated bicycle space is always open to those who want to continue to bike to school.” Seems a little shoving-it-down-their-throat to me, but whatever works.

Remember, only about half the students actually are allowed to drive without a parent, whereas you can bike at any age.

As for kids being environmentally conscious? It is in fact regarded as really cool by a number of students! I think the main problem though is that the idea of not using a car is extremely alien—a problem which I think can be fixed by next school year.

Posted by Jason
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Jul 14, 2007 at 3:53 pm

i go to MV and all the students are aware that there are bike racks behind the science building. also there are a good number of bikes there everyday. usually more than four.
and there are a few bikes locked up to fences.
people just dont because its too troublesome.
when we have to be at school at 7:30 or 8:30, we're still half asleep so nobody wants to wake up an additional 20 minutes earlier to get to school
and it'd be hard to balance a bike with a 20 lbs. backback on.

Posted by Kristin
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Sep 23, 2007 at 9:49 pm

I've ridden with a backpack on--it's no problem for me. In fact it's easier than walking. There's also the option of getting an add to the back of your bike on which you can sit your backpack. They're not too expensive.