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Celebrating Our Second Year Inspiring Youth en Route!

Our mission is to empower youth to choose active modes to get to school. As we pass our second anniversary as a legal entity, we want to share what we’ve accomplished and the partnerships we’ve built. 

We aim to break down the barriers that youth face when choosing active travel. Our data informs our work. We target areas where we know where we can make a difference. 

Bike riding in PE, Outdoor education and other classes 

Data: 5.5% of surveyed students say they have NEVER been on a bike. Another 42% say they lack the skills needed to ride everywhere they want to go. 

Our solution: Bike Fleets in schools.

James Fowler, Lester B. Pearson, Crescent Heights, Bishop McNally, Forest Lawn, Robert Thirsk and a Calgary Board of Education middle school all have bike fleets they use PE, Outdoor Education Classes and with English Language Learners or with the school’s Bike Club. At Fowler, all the PE 20-30s rode during a 2 week unit – about 10 of them for the first time. In total, we estimate 1000 students had access to bike education, including safety, maintenance and repair and most importantly, the equipment because of our work in the last year. 

Our partnership with the Greater Forest Lawn 55+ Society means we are able to donate refurbished bikes with little cost – and this year’s total is 140 bikes donated to date. We have three schools all lined up for next year – with teachers keen to take students biking and teaching bike skills. 

Helmets for these bikes were donated by Kiwanis Club of Calgary or purchased through our Eco-Trust Climate Improvement Fund grant. 

Lester B. Pearson High School students taking their donated bicycles for a spin.
Lester B. Pearson High School students using their donated bicycles during a PE class

Providing Adaptive Bikes to Special Education Classes

Data: CBE schools didn’t have adaptive bikes.

Our solution: We found a grant and bought some.

We have delivered 28 adaptive tricycles to 10 Calgary schools, ensuring that students have access to bikes specifically tailored to their needs. 

To guarantee their success, we organized professional development sessions for teachers and helpers at various schools, equipping them with the knowledge to support students effectively. Riding specially-designed tricycles is physical therapy, increases student’s spatial awareness and enhances gross motor skills. At one school with 18 students, teachers estimate bike riding was a new activity for 15 of the them. They loved it. 

For many of these students, they are experiencing riding a bike for the first time. The smiles are contagious. We were able to support two middle schools this year and would like to expand to more special needs classes for younger students next year. 

Central Memorial TASC enjoying their different adaptive tricycles near the school.
Central Memorial TASC enjoying their different adaptive tricycles near the school

Youth en Route creates a library of maps with routes to schools

Youth en Route created map of a safe route for students to get to All Saints High School from Somerset0-Bridlewood Station. It includes 4 road characteristics such as a pathway, and 3 pathways along the Road. The map shows that it would take students 33 mins, with an 30 meters incline and 20 meter decline.In total, it comes out to 8.4 kilometres

Data: Across Calgary, 21% of students are unaware of the best route to school. At Dr. EP Scarlett it was 35%.

Our solution: We contracted geography grad and cyclist Austin Sersen to make maps.

On each school website, and on info boards at the schools, you can find these extraordinary maps to help students navigate from home to school.  Part information, part inspiration we created to target the students who, having only experienced their city from a car or bus, are unaware of pathways or other routes away from traffic.

Infrastructure reports imagine a safer city

Data: 31.87% of students feel fearful about biking to school due to unsafe routes.

Our solution: We contracted two Graduate students from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Adam Schwartz and Nada Affan, to produce 10 infrastructure reports, one for each of our Climate Improvement Fund-funded schools. These reports leverage the data collected from the Youth En Route Transportation Survey and offer recommendations for expanding the Always Available for All Ages and Abilities (5A) network around schools. 

Crescent Heights Infrastructure report title screenshot
The title of the Crescent Heights High School infrastructure report screenshot

These reports propose solutions for better routes, more pedestrian and cyclist oriented infrastructure around schools. They are a treasure trove of information, data and images to start the discussion for high schools and their communities across the city. They are brand new, check them out!

 Reducing bike theft 

Data: 23% of Calgary students say the risk of theft is a key reason they don’t ride their bikes to school. It’s highest at Lester Pearson, at 33%. In fact, the risk of theft ranks as the fourth most common reason for students not riding to school.

Our solution #1: We collaborated with Community Safety Initiative (12 CSI) to develop an educational video aimed at helping kids learn how to minimize the chances of theft. The video focuses on four simple steps to consider when selecting a lock, choosing a secure location, employing effective locking techniques and registering on Bike Index. While the primary audience is students, the information in this video is valuable for all Calgarians.

Our solution #2: Improved  bike racks and storage at schools

YER Design at Dr. E.P Scarlett High School made by Forest Lawn High School
YER Design at Dr. E.P Scarlett High School made by Forest Lawn High School

Our YER-designed Bike racks have proven to be a remarkably cost-effective solution to bike storage issues. The design re-used existing poorly designed racks and made them functional.

Our first year we created a couple of prototypes and worked with school welding shops to create a couple more. This year, Beaverbrook, Scarlett, Fowler and Crescent Heights got racks through our work. Parent groups at another three schools used our design to improve their racks. We expect to see many more of these improved racks. We are also tinkering with the design to work better for all-sized bikes.


Other things we accomplished: 

  •  Bikes on trains without time limits. Calgary Transit’s pilot project has been extended until December, and we are committed to providing data to show it’s helping students. 
  • Presentations to the city council – on the budget, the Heritage Area Plan, residential speed limits and other items kept us in the news and working with the city to propose positive solutions for students – who don’t always have the time or inclination to present in the Council Chambers. 
  • We invented a bike rack out of bikes to try to figure out ways to reduce waste from bicycles and implement storage. Our YER design bike racks also have reused tire tubes on chains to make it easier to lock a bicycle to them.

Has it worked?

You can judge. Here are a couple of examples of success at our schools from our annual Bike Rack Audit. We’ve also now got two years of data from our school travel surveys. While there are some limitations to the data, we think it’s a good start. In September, we’ll be doing surveys at 15 high schools and will be able to build on this data.

Each year, we complete a school travel survey, measuring the number of students that arrive at school by bike. And yes – the numbers are trending up – reinforcing what we see in the bike rack audit pics from above.

Thank you to all who wheeled with us!

We would like to express our gratitude to everyone who played a role in our journey and contributed to our success in the 2022-2023 school year.

 So many volunteers, from our Bike Fairies/Ferries, business partners, including 

Community partners – Greater Forest Lawn 55+ Society, Kiwanis, Bike Calgary, Calgary Sustainable.

Businesses: B&P Cycle, Bathtub Bikes, Southland and Mcleod Canadian Tire, Calais Printing, Ridley’s.

We extend our appreciation to the dedicated members of the Youth En Route board, schools, admin teams and teacher champions. 

We love that you appreciate us – and understand and support our mission. 

As we reflect on our accomplishments in the past two years, we cannot wait to see where next year brings us. We hope you can join us on this exciting journey.

Let’s wheel into the next year!

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