‘Biketober’ encourages students and staff to hop on bikes

Junior Nora Ball rides her bike down a street. She is participating in Biketober, an event spanning the month of October, that encourages people to bike as much as possible.

Finding a safe way to get out and move can be difficult. Many options such as running in large groups, going to the gym, or playing a school sport are risky because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, biking is a socially-distant option.

“Biketober,” an event spanning the month of October and encouraging people to bike, aims to motivate riders to hop on their bicycles. It is a promotion by Georgia Commute Options, a program that encourages students and staff to take commute alternatives to school, according to Nichole Hollis, school program administrator.

“Throughout the month of October, we are encouraging students, staff and parents to bike anywhere at any time.”

Atlanta Students Advocating for Pedestrians (ASAP), founded by alumna Bria Brown and led by junior Nora Ball, is promoting “Biketober.”

This is the second year Grady has participated in the event.

“Biketober” not only helps students, staff and others get exercise, but riders can win prizes for participating, such as an Edison Electric Bike.

“The purpose of “Biketober” is to get people active and raise awareness for biking and biking safety,” Brown said.

To participate, students and staff have to register through “Love to Ride.” Once registered, they can start logging their minutes and miles. Bikers can also participate and work together in teams.

“It’s an opportunity for people to get out and get some physical activity, especially now, more than ever, with us all being in a pandemic,” Hollis said. “It’s a great promotion, and we’re excited that Grady High School is participating. We’re really looking forward to seeing students and staff members bike in the neighborhood having fun.”

Sophomore Andre Grossberg expressed interest in helping around the community and joined ASAP to assist. He has worked with the club to make posters to advertise “Biketober.”

“I wanted to contribute to my community and make an actual difference in our environment, so an ASAP member recruited me,” Grossberg said. “In ASAP, we do a lot of projects. I recently made a poster for “Biketober,” and I made a bike-to-school-day video.”

Ball initially joined ASAP because she didn’t feel safe while biking. In 2016, freshman Alexia Hyneman died in a crash while riding her bicycle across the intersection at Monroe Drive and 10th Street near the school. Ball hopes the club’s efforts to increase safety will make participating in “Biketober” more enjoyable.

“When I came to Grady as a freshman, I biked to school every day, and I realized that it wasn’t very safe because the bike lane is across from the school,” Ball said. “Before, there wasn’t a crosswalk or the HAWK signal, so I was trying to find a way to get those installed. I reached out to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and they pointed me to Bria Brown.”

The HAWK signal is a High-Intensity Activated CrossWalK beacon that pedestrians can activate, stopping traffic and allowing them to cross safely.

Since ASAP’s inception, the group has helped Grady become more bike and pedestrian friendly.

“ASAP is an advocacy group,” Ball said. “We got the HAWK signal implemented; we got bike racks installed at Grady; we work with politicians and develop relationships with council members, and we work with nonprofits.”

ASAP and Georgia Commute Schools believe the event helps unite the community.

“I’m really excited to continue working with Grady High School and working with such a wonderful group of students that really want to see more people on bikes and want to make sure that their community is safe,” Hollis said. “They’re always thinking about how they can bring more people together during the pandemic.”

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