Back in 2017, Irene Dye started riding to school at Académie Lafayette’s Cherry campus at Armour and Cherry in Kansas City, Missouri. Neither Armour nor Gillham had any sort of bike lane yet, so she and her family rode neighborhood streets and sidewalks, and she locked her bike to a railing in the staff parking lot. It didn’t take long for more staff and students to start locking their bikes next to Irene’s, and Principal Heather Royce acquired Academie Lafayette’s first bike rack to encourage the new riders.
Five years later, Madame Royce estimates that over 30 students and staff walk or bike to school regularly. Académie Lafayette parent Paul Webb took the initiative to increase the school’s bike parking capacity and asked BikeWalkKC for help.
“The rack was at capacity most days,” says Paul.
Thanks to Aspiria in Overland Park, BikeWalkKC was able to deliver a bike rack in just a couple of weeks!
So what has changed since 2017? Madame Royce contributes the “walk and bike boom” to older students (the Cherry campus added 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades after initially opening with only Kindergartners through 2nd grade), the new protected bike lanes on Armour and Gillham, and engaged families like the Webbs taking action for safer streets.
The Webbs chose their neighborhood in Midtown because they appreciate how the narrow streets slow down drivers and make it easier to walk and bike. They started biking their daughter to school when she was still riding in a kid seat.
“We think it is a great way to start the day,” Paul says. “I find that a walk or a bike ride wakes up the mind and body. Now that she is in first grade, we usually all ride as a family so it is also good practice for developing safe group riding skills like dealing with car drivers.”
And more families are joining forces to advocate for their school.
“Some parents wrote a PIAC [Public Improvements Advisory Committee] request to the city to install a crosswalk and do other improvements on Armour,” says Madame Royce. “It was approved in March.”
Académie Lafayette’s evolution is a story about creating the future you want to live in: This kind of change is possible because families, school staff, and neighbors are building relationships, lifting each other up, and doing the work. Back in third grade, Irene Dye said she was “really excited” about the new bike rack because “it might encourage other kids to ride their bikes to school because they see people enjoying it and if they had a place to put their bikes they might try it.” This year, Madame Royce is glad to see that even the new bike rack is nearly full.
“I would love to see more- more students and parents walking and more bike racks.”
Académie Lafayette's Girl Scout troop is planning a special celebration for National Walk & Bike to School Day on Wednesday, October 12. Is your school organizing an event this year?
- Does your school need a bike rack? Get in touch and we may be able to help!
- Read 3 ways to get more kids walking to school
- November 14 is Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day
- Learn more about BikeWalkKC's Safe Routes to School programs