Ask ELi: Biking to East Lansing Public Schools?
Following last month’s community forums at Glencairn and Donley Elementary Schools, ELi received communication from readers surprised to see that the new school layouts included bike racks. We contacted ELPS Superintendent Dori Leyko to clarify exactly what the current policy is regarding children riding bikes to school in East Lansing.
According to Leyko, ELPS bike policies were updated in 2014. The current District policy reads: “The district will formulate plans and procedures for the safe use and parking of bicycles on High School and Middle School property and publish them in the appropriate handbooks.”
Prior to the 2014 update, the policy read: “The Board prohibits the use of bicycle for travel to and from school by elementary students for safety reasons.” So the policy changed from one which specifically prohibited bicycles for elementary-school-aged students to one that did not address elementary schools at all.
The Donley Elementary School handbook, published 2013-2014, still indicates, “Elementary students are not permitted to ride their bicycles to school. There will be no exceptions to this policy for any kindergarten through sixth grade student.” Leyko told ELi that the elementary school principals are working on updating the student handbooks, and that updated policies should be available this summer.
“There is no prohibition of riding bikes to and from any of our schools,” Leyko clarified in an email to ELi. “As you can see, our elementary schools are not specifically addressed in this [current] policy.”
She told us that the District intends to install bike racks at all the existing elementary schools this spring, as well as at all of the new and renovated elementary buildings as they are finished.
Currently, students who ride their bikes to elementary schools must be creative about securing their bicycles during the day. (During the thaw a few weeks ago, I snapped the photo shown above, of a child’s bike chained to the fence surrounding the parking area at Glencairn.)
Leyko cautioned, “I believe that lessons on bicycle safety also need to occur for our elementary students, as many of our elementary schools are near busy intersections and/or have narrow sidewalks leading up to them. We will work with our Safe Routes to School Committee members to organize bike safety education.”
During the Glencairn construction forum last month, Leyko explained that the school district can only control the improvements that are actually on the school property, and that any biking or walking routes off of school grounds would fall under the City’s or MDOT’s jurisdiction. She said that grants might be available to groups like Safe Routes to School to improve some of those infrastructures.
Safe Routes to School is hosting this year’s Walk and Roll Day on Saturday, April 14, from 1-3 pm. This program will include safety training for children commuting on bicycles.
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