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Jersey High School Students Protest Anti-Bike Policy

10:24 AM EDT on May 2, 2008

Bridgewater-Raritan High doesn't want to encourage cycling (or, apparently, walking) to school

These kids today. Members of the student environmental club at New Jersey's Bridgewater-Raritan High School raised $2,000 over the last four years, and what do they want to do with it? Give the school a bike rack, of all things. But Principal James Riccobono is having none of that nonsense, as the Star-Ledger reports:

"It didn't seem that logical. It would be at nocost to them," [club co-president Michelle] Slosberg, 18, said yesterday as sheslipped on her bike helmet and prepared for a nearly20-minute ride home.

"Actually, they said no on Earth Day," remarkedKatherine Dransfield, a senior who has tried, with a groupof other students, to start a bike club. "Essentiallywhat they told us was that they didn't want to promotebiking as a way to get to school."

Slosberg and Dransfield said Riccobono expressed concernsover the safety of students jostling with the heavy bus andcar traffic in front of the school and biking along busyGarretson Road.

But many students don't see it that way. SeniorTalia Perry, 18, dressed in sporty biking gear andsunglasses, said she and her friends were quite "workedup" after the school refused "what we portrayed asa gift to the school."

Offended by the snub, students promptly began planning aresponse. Yesterday, more than 50 students rode their bikesto school, commuting in pairs and groups. After studying upon state biking laws -- and carrying copies with them -- thestudents legally tethered their bikes in conspicuousclusters around lamp posts, trees and other poles dottingthe circular drive in front of the school.

Following the mass ride, students delivered a letter to Riccobono protesting the bike rack prohibition, but the principal was not moved.

Instead, he responded with a missive of his own:

"In as much as the district provides courtesy busingto students who live within walking distance of the highschool, because of the danger on Garretson Road, it does(not) make sense, in my opinion, to promote the riding ofbicycles to school," the letter read.

Riccobono has suggested that cycling students chain their bikes to a fence surrounding a retention pond at the back of the school grounds, an area students refer to as "the swamp."

Meanwhile, environmental club member Alec Story points out that, while it refuses to accept a gifted bike rack, the school has invested in a parking spot for every senior who drives.

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