Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Santa Monica students to ditch cars for Bike it! Walk it! Day tomorrow

Until last month, I lived in Santa Monica and ran down California Ave. in the mornings for exercise. During the school year, I had to wake up earlier for my run to hit the road long before first bell — because the exhaust from the cars driving students to St. Monica’s High School was too much for my lungs!

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While I could avoid the air pollution by waking up at the crack of dawn, all the students at that school were, of course, breathing the exhaust I avoided every morning. Which is why I was really glad to hear about an event happening tomorrow, Wed., Oct. 13: Santa Monica Bike it! and Walk it! Day.

As you may have guessed, the goal of Bike it! and Walk it! Day is simple: To get students to bike or walk to work, at least for a day. But the simple goal’s gone big this time around, growing from a Santa Monica High School event (video below of the March Bike it! event in Santa Monica) to a city-wide endeavor that’s signed up all the public schools — elementary, junior high, and high school — in Santa Monica.

I live in West Hollywood now and no longer run by St. Monica's -- a private school that won't be participating in tomorrow's event. But Richard McKinnon, an organizer of the event, says he hopes to expand the event to cover all schools, public or private, next time around. For now, Richard's focusing on the more than 10,000 Santa Monica public school students, enthusiastically pointing out that if all those students bike and walk, the city itself will rethink its transportation infrastructure needs.

The event was originally planned for last Wednesday but got rained out — which has created some confusion but also given organizers an extra week to get ready for the event. Go to a Santa Monica school — or know a student who does? Plan now to participate! The Bike it! Walk it! Day website has handy bike route maps customized for 9 local schools — and participants will get a chance to win bikes and other cool prizes or buy bike gear at very low cost. If you have questions about the event, contact Richard at for answers.

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Photos of Santa Monica High School’s Bike it! Day in June 2010 by Barbara Filet