Dr. EP Scarlett Pilot Project shows the path forward!

Is there a way to get teenagers to change their transportation choices?  

Yes! We think the results of our pilot project show that it can work.  
 
Working with partners Bike Calgary and Ever Active Schools, we worked to create a presence for active transportation in the school. We created a website with information for students, videos to show how to cross Macleod Trail, maps with suggested routes from feeder communities. At the end, we celebrated with a Bike to School day.  

Because of Covid, the work has been on-again and off-again as in-school classes started and stopped. We were lucky that it started long enough to celebrate Bike to School day on June 4.  

Over 50 students and teachers rode to school – a five-fold increase from a normal summer day. One Grade 10 student rode from Sunnyside. Another youth pedalled in from Silverado – in 37 minutes. A group of nine teachers rode in a convoy from the west side of the city. Only three had ridden before.  

“I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised that so many of our students wanted to give it a try,” said Assistant Principal Randy Lewis. “It’s been such a hard year for them, that I think many are just trying to get through one more week of classes. To see so many try something new was fantastic. This is a great place to build from for next year.”  

With help of partner EverActive Schools, we were able to purchase drinks and snacks, and made it a bit of a celebration. Students were able see maps and consider their transportation options, and talk to their peers, many of whom rode from surrounding communities.  

“The key now is to figure out how to convert these one-time riders to more regular ones,” said Laura Shutiak, the executive director and founder of the new organization. “Now that EP Scarlett is in our program, we will continue to work with them to create resources, build up an active transportation culture, and break down the barriers for students.”  

Principal Shari Goodfellow said some of the riders she spoke to planned to try it more frequently next year and the school will have a celebration of biking every year. The school and parent council  is working to install new, permanent bike racks for students.  

There were many Bike Calgary Volunteers and board members that worked to make this pilot project work, and set the framework for the new group to continue this process. They created maps, videos, moved bike racks and rounded up donations. Thanks to Doug, Bill, Michael, Dana, Gary, Garry, Pete and the rest of the Bike Calgary board.  

It is a long-term project. Until some bike path connections are made and routes are safer for students, it will be harder to change the choices students make. That’s one reason why a dedicated group of volunteers formed this new organization to focus on working with students and student leaders. One of the benefits is that it will be a resource for schools and the larger community, collecting data and tracking student transportation choices over time.

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