Roberto Clemente Promise Academy Prepares for Bike to School Day


The yard at Roberto Clemente Promise Academy in Juniata Park

This year marks the first time Roberto Clemente Middle School will participate in Bike to Work Day—and both the teachers and students are psyched for the event on May 6.

The school, located in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia, was a noted under-performing middle school in Philadelphia throughout the 2000s. The school re-opened in 2010 as a Promise Academy. As noted at the time on the school’s website at the time,

This change marks a new and exciting time in the history of the school.   As a Promise Academy student, your child will be part of an exceptional learning experience.   He/she will participate in instructional and enrichment programs that will promote his/her academic growth and achievement.  We are very pleased to have you and your child as a part of the Roberto Clemente family. You and your child are the life of our school.

On Friday, the Bicycle Coalition’s Safe Routes Philly Coordinator Wafiyyah Murray met with two Roberto Clemente teachers who are helping run that school’s Bike To School Day.

From left to right: Waffiyyah Murray, Katherine Gehris, and Rebecca Yacker

From left to right: Waffiyyah Murray, Katherine Gehris, and Rebecca Yacker

Teachers Rebecca Yacker and Katherine Gehris met with Murray about coordinating Bike to School Day, installing new bike racks at Roberto Clemente and figuring out routes around the area near 2nd and Erie Streets, where students can safely get to class walking or on a bike. The three went over the walkability and bikeability checklists for that area, and have scheduled a bikeability audit, which, as explained here, will help Waffiyyah come up with a safe route for the students on May 6.

Murray and the teachers went over the walkability and bikeability checklists required of all schools around the country.

Our local Bike to School Day is put together by Safe Routes Philly, a project of the Bicycle Coalition and sponsored by the Philadelphia Health Department. It seeks to encourage walking and biking as a safe, fun form of transportation for students in Philadelphia. Since 2010, Safe Routes Philly has trained over 200 teachers and the safety lessons have been taught in 133 schools reaching over 60,000 students.

Bike to School Day is a national event conducted in hundreds of cities all over the country. The national event is “part of the movement for year-round safe routes to school and encourages bicycling to school as a healthy way for kids and families to make their school commute,” according to Bike To School’s official site,

A statue of Roberto Clemente at the school

A statue of Roberto Clemente at the school

If all goes according to plan, Bike to School Day will take place in Philadelphia and as many as 2,220 other locations around the country.

“Roberto Clemente Promise Academy is a school in blossom,” said teacher Katherine Gehris. “With many changes happening here, one of which being the adoption of a new greener, bike-friendly attitude. This May 6th will be our first ‘Bike to School Day’ where students can get some bike swag, learn all about safety and the routes in their areas. The addition of brand new bike racks will certainly help the school as a number of students have already said that they would bike if they had a place to put them during the day.”

Rebecca Yacker agreed. “As a biker in Philly I’m really excited to collaborate with Waffiyyah to bring Safe Routes to Roberto Clemente on May 6th for our Bike to School Day. I think it is really important to advocate the benefits of bicycling to students as an environmentally friendly mode of transit as well as a healthy activity that can be built into everyday. Bicycling and walking is a lifestyle,” she said. “We need students to continue to build a healthier, greener Philly that considers biking and walking routes at the forefront of growth in how our city looks and feels. I know Roberto Clemente’s Bike to School Day is the first step in making that growth reality.”

Topics: Safe Routes Philly

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