The other day, I was on Valley Road, one of Montclair's main streets, and there was a dad on a bike shepherding two little boys on their own bikes. Valley is a busy street and my stomach clenched a bit when I saw this. I was concerned that they wouldn't be safe.
But then something happened that really warmed my heart. The car behind the riders slowed and began shepherding all three of them. I stood on the sidewalk and watched as the car provided safe passage all the way to the intersection, where the three turned off onto less busy thoroughfares.
It's great to live in a town that is easily bikeable and walkable, but Montclair can feel like a city in many ways, so getting from "here to there" on a bike is often a strategic endeavor, just as it would be in any city. That's why this morning, when I saw the park path full of painted bike stencils, guiding kids along the safest routes for Walk & Bike to School Day, it reminded me of all the work that's been done to develop bike-friendly routes for kids.
Montclair is famous for its magnet school system - seven elementary schools throughout town, each with a different theme, from performing arts to science to the state's only public Montessori-based school. As a result, many kids ride a school bus. But Bike&Walk Montclair, our local ped-friendly advocacy organization, has worked tirelessly to promote Safe Routes to School and provide loads of sturdy bike racks once you get there.
An article on the Bike&Walk Montclair website this week reflects on how many more kids are biking to school these days, something we all seem to support as a community. I love that we have a group like this working to make streets safer for everyone. Because in a vibrant, active town like this, biking should always be an option.