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Throwing a Pandemic-friendly Bike “Rodeo”

A person taking a selfie. They are wearing a helmet, sunglasses, a tank top and they are smiling. Behind them are two children also wearing helmets and smiling. They are all on the shoulder of a road, next to a sidewalk.

This guest post was originally posted at the Denver Community Active Living Coalition blog. Amy Kenreich is a parent volunteer at Lincoln Elementary School in Denver. Amy is proud to be a crossing guard, a mobility advocate and co-chair of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. Her passion is community-building and her professional experience is in communications. She uses her sweet graphic design skills to get everyday people to find joy in active transportation.

Bike to School Day is approaching on May 5th! This event happens every year, on the first Wednesday in May. To celebrate, our DPS school Lincoln Elementary usually has a fun-filled bike rodeo complete with free bike repair, obstacles to ride over, a skills course, family bike parade, helmet decorating, rules of the road station and a slow race (the slowest rider wins). In the days and weeks after the rodeo, bike racks are filled. For a bicyclist like me, it fills my heart with joy to see the interested but concerned crowd feel empowered enough to ride to school with their kids.

Like so many favorite events, in 2020 our bike rodeo was cancelled. This spring we decided—pandemic or not—we should do something to get kids excited about riding their bikes. We came up with a Bike Remot-eo.

The idea blossomed from a suggestion from the school principal, Emily Clark, who thought it would be fun to decorate bikes and display them. We discussed the popularity of scraper bikes and one thing led to another. Before long, our crossing guards and the physical education teacher, Jennifer Gonzales, hatched a plan:

We will host a live virtual event outside on a teacher work day. Families can log on to watch staff compete against each other, working in teams and in person to decorate bikes. This Great British Baking Show-style event will be a team building experience that has been sorely missed during the pandemic. The best part is that students watching from home will be able to submit their suggestions and questions for the teacher teams in the virtual chat. It could very well be a technical disaster, but it will be worth a try!

The six bikes teachers decorate will be donated to Lucky to Ride, a non-profit that puts bikes in the hands of at-risk and disadvantaged youth.

Parent volunteers agreed to meet with our cohorts (13 of them!) and explain what’s happening:

  1. Students will donate decorating materials. The only requirement is that they are up-cycled. Some suggestions made them smile: tape, marshmallows, cardboard, dress up clothes, tin foil, candy wrappers, etc. The kids loved seeing the silly example bike.
  2. Volunteers are also encouraging students to decorate their own bike or scooter using what they have on hand at home.
  3. Students are receiving a handout with a map to plan their safe route to school. Everyone can show off their decorating work on Bike to School Day, May 5!

When a child comes home and is excited about a wild idea to decorate their bike with marshmallows and shows off the route they want to use to ride to school, their enthusiasm might just convince the adults in their lives to hop on their bikes, too!

Why all this work?

I believe that creating a culture that celebrates biking comes with community benefits such as:

  • More support for safer street infrastructure.
  • A way to meet your neighbors.
  • A way to get the wiggles out before and after school.
  • Less pollution!
  • More joy!
A hand holding a piece of paper that features a map with a route highlighted, and says "Plan your route to school!"

Biking helps the greater good, and schools are a perfect place to start. Empowering kids to ride their bikes to school just might inspire more adults to look for ways to incorporate biking into their commute, grocery run, or weekend plans. Getting out of our vehicles is contagious. Try it! Next thing you know, you’ll be planning a bike remot-eo at your local school.

Photos from 2019 Bike Rodeo

A child wearing a helmet rides down a wooden ramp over a grass field. There is an adult behind her.
A man stands behind a vertical bike repair stand. There is a van behind him that has a logo for Campus Cycles. They are next to a red brick building.
A number of helmets on a table. Children's hands are shown decorating the helmets with streamers, glitter, glue and other materials.
An adult wearing a yellow vest, a child wearing a checkered shirt, a smaller child with a pink shirt and another adult in a black sweatshirt stand facing away from the camera. They are on a sidewalk.
Bike racks by the school that are filled with children's bikes. There is a fence behind them.
A number of children with bikes and helmets stand over their bikes on paved ground. There is a cone holding a sign and balloons in the foreground.
A group of adults and children riding bikes away from the camera toward the left, on a road. The school playground is in the background.
A small children's bike decorated with brightly colored streamers and tape.
Bicycle Colorado

About the Author: Bicycle Colorado

Bicycle Colorado is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Denver. We use advocacy, education and passion to make Colorado one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation. We encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado. With the support of our members and numerous partnerships across the public and private sector, we’ve made significant strides in improving bicycling since 1992.


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