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Jersey High School Students Protest Anti-Bike Policy

Posted By Brad Aaron On May 2, 2008 @ 10:24 am In Bicycling,Out of Town,Schools,Street Safety,Walking | 67 Comments

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Bridgewater-Raritan High doesn't want to encourage cycling (or, apparently, walking) to school

These kids today. Members of the student environmental club at New Jersey's Bridgewater-Raritan High School raised $2,000 over the last four years, and what do they want to do with it? Give the school a bike rack, of all things. But Principal James Riccobono is having none of that nonsense, as the Star-Ledger [1] reports:

"It didn't seem that logical. It would be at no cost to them," [club co-president Michelle] Slosberg, 18, said yesterday as she slipped on her bike helmet and prepared for a nearly 20-minute ride home.

"Actually, they said no on Earth Day," remarked Katherine Dransfield, a senior who has tried, with a group of other students, to start a bike club. "Essentially what they told us was that they didn't want to promote biking as a way to get to school."

Slosberg and Dransfield said Riccobono expressed concerns over the safety of students jostling with the heavy bus and car traffic in front of the school and biking along busy Garretson Road.

But many students don't see it that way. Senior Talia Perry, 18, dressed in sporty biking gear and sunglasses, said she and her friends were quite "worked up" after the school refused "what we portrayed as a gift to the school."

Offended by the snub, students promptly began planning a response. Yesterday, more than 50 students rode their bikes to school, commuting in pairs and groups. After studying up on state biking laws -- and carrying copies with them -- the students legally tethered their bikes in conspicuous clusters around lamp posts, trees and other poles dotting the circular drive in front of the school.

Following the mass ride, students delivered a letter to Riccobono protesting the bike rack prohibition, but the principal was not moved.

Instead, he responded with a missive of his own:

"In as much as the district provides courtesy busing to students who live within walking distance of the high school, because of the danger on Garretson Road, it does (not) make sense, in my opinion, to promote the riding of bicycles to school," the letter read.

Riccobono has suggested that cycling students chain their bikes to a fence surrounding a retention pond at the back of the school grounds, an area students refer to as "the swamp."

Meanwhile, environmental club member Alec Story points out that, while it refuses to accept a gifted bike rack, the school has invested in a parking spot for every senior who drives.


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[1] Star-Ledger: http://www.nj.com/starledger/stories/index.ssf?/base/news-3/120961667266210.xml&coll=1

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