Bicycle Coalition

Darlene Bates-Harper and Waffiyyah Murray at Richard Wright School in North Philadelphia

Back in November, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia held its annual Cadence Youth Cycling gala to help raise money for that program. The gala was an ultimate success, with several of Cadence’s youth athletes receiving awards for their leadership and the people in attendance bidding on all sorts of cool stuff—bikes, sporting event tickets, tickets to Frozen on Ice, etc.

One person in attendance, Richard Adler, bid on a children’s bike, won it, then donated it back to the Coalition, which was pretty cool of him.

Since then, BCGP Safe Routes Philly coordinator Waffiyyah Murray has been trying to figure out what to do with the bike. After all, Murray has put together the largest Bike to School Day ever in Philadelphia this year, working with teachers, parents and students to make sure anyone at the nine schools all over the city she’s working with, who wants to bike at school on National Bike To School Day (May 6) can do so safely.

In Murray’s work at Richard R. Wright School in North Philadelphia, she’s been working closely with several parental volunteers (some of which, as was evident on Monday, call her “The Bike Lady”) to teach students the safest routes for walking and biking to and from that school in the mornings and afternoons. (Our last post about Murray’s work at Richard Wright is here.)

One parent who’s been working with Murray on Bike to School Day and Safe Routes Philly initiatives is Darlene Bates-Harper. “I’ve been coming here to help since before it got nice,” she said with a laugh outside the school, along 28th Street. Bates-Harper and Murray have worked with students on the walking school bus programming since February. Her daughter, Taylor, has especially taken to bicycling, too, and works regularly with Murray.

Given those circumstances, and the fact that Taylor has been wanting a bike for the last couple years, according to her mom, Murray figured: what better use of our office kids’ bike than to give one to Taylor just in time for Bike to School Day?

“When you have a kid who actually wants to bike and doesn’t want to play video games all day, you’ve got to foster that,” said Murray.

When Taylor got out of school around 3pm, she immediately asked whose bike that was on the sidewalk. “Whose do you think it is?” asked her mom.

She pointed at Murray. “Yours?”

Darlene Bates-Harper and Taylor Bates-Vazquez

Darlene Bates-Harper and Taylor Bates-Vazquez

She didn’t seem to really believe she’d just gotten a bike until she put on her helmet and began riding it.


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, Tomorrow, Taylor and thousands of other students at as many as 2,220 other schools around the country will be participating.

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