Bowen Island is not yet known for its bike riding but if you look closely, there is a bike culture: you will see no shortage of bikes down by the ferry dock, and many islanders will be aware that there are plans to build a bike park, and sometimes you will even see someone bike riding home or to the ferry, often on an electric bike (if they’re lucky!).
For me, the most visible sign of bike interest and bike culture on Bowen Island occurred during Bike to School/Work Week, May 29-June 4. BICS had over eighty students ride to school. Almost all of the eighty students did multiple trips, some doing all five days and many of them have expressed their commitment to keep going! In all, over 250 trips to school were made. Dozens of parents also rode in.
Thanks to parent support, we had the RCMP, Fire Department, some bike obstacle courses, and refreshments lined up to greet students as they came to school. Former BICS student Jackson also volunteered to tune up bikes. To prepare in advance of bike week, in the spring, Cycling BC worked with our Grade 4-7 students to help them learn bike handling skills. Many families also practiced riding bike routes prior to Bike to School Week.
The evident joy of students starting their day with some exercise was in stark contrast with one of the major news events of the week, the Unites States backing out of the Paris Agreement. While climate change was not on the minds of all, or perhaps even many, of our students, the spirit required to combat climate change was still evident:
- toughness – Bowen has no shortage of hills and Bike to School Week had no shortage of rainy days;
- responsibility – ensuring one prepared in advance to have a working bicycle and one woke up early enough to have a slower-than-usual commute to school and still arrive on time;
- commitment to goals – many students challenged themselves to ride each day and did;
- teamwork – parents often rode with their children or drove them partway to a safer location to ride from;
- and joy – confronting obstacles (hills, bad weather) with good humour, enthusiasm and with the support of others.
It is a privilege to work in a school; especially a school with such wonderful students, families and staff as we have at BICS. In the face of great challenges and a bombardment of disconcerting news, there is no shortage of hope to be found in the actions and energy of young people and those who support them.
Thank you to Sarah Cormier for spearheading many of our Bike to School efforts, and Greg Cormier, Jane Miller-Ashton, Fraser Simmons, and Councillor Melanie Mason for helping out in many ways. Thank you also to RCMP Constable Arreaga and Sarah Haxby and Student Council for encouraging drivers to slow down in the school zone and Ian Thompson and the Bowen Island Volunteer Fire Department who always answer the call, even if it is just to visit the school and let kids play in the trucks. Lastly, thank you to families for helping your children with biking to school.