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Bike To School Event Touts Exercise, Need For More Infrastructure

Stan Jastrzebski

Bicycle enthusiasts used Friday’s third-to-last day of school as a chance to get more kids to bike to school -- and to raise awareness about how much is still to be done to make Lafayette truly accommodating to those on two wheels.

Crossing guard Judith Sierzputowski called kids by name as she saw them, but says it’s uncommon to see students on bikes.

“I only have a few," she says. "I have what I call the 'biker girls'. There’s two girls who bike almost every day – even in the winter in the ice and the snow they rode their bikes!”

But the 11-year veteran crossing guard says traffic is still a dangerous place for children to be, especially when drivers use cell phones behind the wheel. Bike to school organizers say they hope the “trains” of students riding with adult volunteers Friday will make drivers think twice about speeding or texting while driving.

About 30 students biked to Glen Acres Elementary School Friday. First grade teacher Shelly Tucker, who helped organize the event, says that’s many more than normal.

“Yeah, we usually probably have about three or four bikes on a normal day,” she says.

Volunteers from organizations such as the United Way and Bicycle Lafayette helped organize bike “trains,” with adults cycling at the front and back. Bicycle Lafayette member Susan Schechter says it’s a good start, but the community can still do more to be bike-friendly.

“What has happened in real bicycling communities is they’ve identified safe routes and then they developed those as: these are bicycle-friendly streets. And they might even have some infrastructure – some hard-scaping to make it safer for cyclists, like little bump-outs and slow speeds and lots of stop signs.”

Bike lanes can be hard to come by in the greater Lafayette area. In West Lafayette, for example, only about one of every nine miles of road includes a bike lane.

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