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Community Spokespeople

Memories of Walking and Biking to School

When I think back to my elementary school days, one of my favorite memories is biking to and from Sand Lake Elementary School here in Orlando. Before I was even old enough to attend elementary school, I would pedal with mom and sis on their bike ride to school on the back of my mom’s tag-along bike. When I finally started kindergarten, I was elated to show off my little pink bicycle with streamers and training wheels to my new friends. I would always reach school energized and excited about the possibilities of a new day; how could I not when my journey there was graced by a symphony of chirping birds and a picturesque blue sky hanging above me?

Tagging along with mom to school.

A year later, a bike path was constructed from my neighborhood to the community park, with a short-cut connection to my elementary school. From my seven-year-old perspective, it might as well have been commissioned specifically for me. Each morning there would be a surprise; which of my friends and their parents would I encounter on the way? Would it be Hannah? No, I see my best friend Kate up ahead! “Mommy, let’s race to the gate!” I would shout, and she always let me win. When I would sit down in class, I already had a sense of accomplishment each day.

Ready to roll to school on a chilly day.

When the announcements came on at the end of the day dismissing the students, my friends and I were overwhelmed with pride to be a part of the “Walkers and Bikers.” After all, we were the ones who got to play on the playground before we went home! I’ll never forget fighting the urge to run down the stairs and crash through the double doors to see my mom’s smiling face. The few times I had to be released with the “Car Riders” due to an after-school appointment, I knew I was missing out. After all, riding home with my friends was the best part of my day. Plus, I hated waiting on the long line of cars to snake its way through the car line.

Every year on National Bike to School Day, my mother invited all the kids from my neighborhood to my driveway to decorate our bikes before class. The pipe cleaners and string may as well have been diamonds and pearls, and our group of kids and their parents seemed like the Macy’s day parade. I’ll be forever grateful to my mom for making these magical moments possible.

Bike-to-School Day, circa 2008, to Sand Lake Elementary

My advice to any parent who has the opportunity to ride to school with your child: JUST DO IT! You will create memories and a special bond that will last a lifetime.

Need help or resources for planning a bike to school or organizing a bike- or walk-to-school day: Check out the Walk & Bike To School Site for downloadable materials, ideas and resources. Or reach out to us for resources or help at mailto:[email protected]

About the author:  Lina Giles studies business at the University of Central Florida. She is a Dr. Phillips High School graduate and alumni of Sand Lake Elementary School, where she enjoyed riding her bike to school. She continues to love bicycling and contributing to the Bike/Walk Central Florida website with this and other articles.

Lina (right) with her sis Cecilia on the Shingle Creek Trail


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