Bike to school, win a prize | August 29, 2008 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - August 29, 2008

Bike to school, win a prize

High school programs encourage green habits

by Kelsey Mesher

Mountain View High School students who rode their bikes to school last week were surprised when they received Cliff bars, water bottles and Jamba Juice gift cards, handed out by parents and students promoting the "Carbon Free Commute Challenge."

"We're doing this from two angles," said Scott Chan, PTSA member and co-coordinator of the program. "One is an environmental angle and one is to alleviate traffic around the school."

Chan and his team of parents have plans to pass out rewards at least once a month, on unspecified days, in hopes of encouraging students to bike, rather than drive, to school more often. Similar programs have been implemented successfully at Loyola and Oak elementary schools, as well as Gunn High School in Palo Alto, where as many as 400 students biked regularly last spring.

While administrators have long-term goals to give the district a green makeover, including a district-wide audit and installing solar panels, students and parents are eager to promote the new commute programs and other eco-friendly habits.

"A large percentage of students live within a two-mile radius of Mountain View High," Chan said, noting that if those students biked it would decongest traffic and parking. "We think that that's a reasonable bike trip for students to be making at this age."

Meanwhile, students at Los Altos High School are ramping up other green efforts this year. Members of the school's environmental club, named the Green Team, have been planning since well before the first bell rang.

"It's especially hard with high school students because they don't care," said Kira Labuda, one of three Green Team co-presidents. "When you're a little kid you're really impressionable. For high school, if it's not cool then you don't want to do it."

Labuda, who joined the Green Team as a freshman, was disappointed when, half-way through the year, the club fell apart. Now she and co-presidents Uji Venkat and Flora Champenois are leading a group of 20 eager students in projects such as weekly recycling, encouraging the use of reusable water bottles and canvas bags, and volunteering off-site at events like California Coastal Cleanup day.

"I joined the club because I was interested in the environment," said Champenois, "And because it simply seemed like a good opportunity to get involved on campus and have some fun."

One of Champenois' main contributions is leading an ink cartridge recycling drive, an entrepreneurial effort that made the club $300 to use in future projects. One of the biggest projects in the works is expanding last year's Earth Day into a week long event.

E-mail Kelsey Mesher at


Posted by sf, a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2008 at 10:16 pm

I think biking to school is a fabulous idea. I did it as a kid from Cuesta Drive to MVHS (then Awalt high). I enjoyed the rejuevenating lift after a day of classes. It put in place a life long habit. I exercise 30 minutes after work. Now, I am proud of my sons- One rides his bike daily to and from MVHS, and it's a much farther distance! We live in the mobile home park off Shoreline. The other lives in San Ramon and bikes to work.
Yes, it is hard to start the habit, but it is so uplifting! Get yourself a good bike and do it!

Posted by ABC, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Sep 1, 2008 at 1:17 pm

The kids are supposed to get something for walking too. Not everyone wants to bring their bike.

Posted by Lauren, a resident of Jackson Park
on Sep 2, 2008 at 11:43 pm

I ride my bike to school 4 days a week. It is a quiet, smooth ride with a little "hike" as I have to go over the pedestrian bridge. I ride 4 miles, but it doesn't feel very far at all. If you live within biking distance, please consider it!

Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 3, 2008 at 11:11 am

Very nice that the PTA (?) is sponsoring this carrot. Now - what is the High School District itself doing to promote other transportation? Anyone to stand in the hot sun waiting for the #51 Bus in the afternoons (or in the rain in the winter)? With increased parking around the school there is bound to be increased single-user auto traffic.