Bicycles of all colors and sizes pedaled through the streets of Dexter on Wednesday as nearly 300 students participated in the Dexter Community Schools' "Bike to School" event.
"Children who normally get a ride to school were encouraged to ride their bikes instead, as part of a way to help children develop a lifelong habit of cycling instead of driving," the National Center for Safe Routes to School said in a press release.
Parent Holly Young rode to and elementary schools with her daughters Emma (third grade) and Elizabeth (first grade).
"The girls were so excited. I feel that if they could get some type of crossing light at Dan Hoey Road (near Dexter Crossing), I would send my kids on bikes starting at third grade — except for winter."
Young, who spent several years in Japan, said children in schools receive bus service through second grade, and then they ride their bikes every day.
"I think that 10 minutes of bike riding every morning would be great exercise," she said.
Sarah Read and Sabina Carty, who both live in Huron Farms, met at on Ryan Drive and rode their bikes to on Wednesday. Sarah and Sabrina said they were each glad to find a friend to ride with to the school.
To help with traffic control, several parents and Dexter residents volunteered to supervise children on their way to and from the schools.
Jim Carson, village council trustee, helped students riding their bicycles from the Dexter Crossing subdivision across Dan Hoey Road.
"This event speaks well of the school system as a supporter of the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation's ," Carson said. "It also shows the commitment of the village council for non-motorized paths and sidewalks in our communities. An event such as this demonstrates the worthiness of working toward a program in Dexter."
Parent Wendy Sutton said the event was a great way to promote physical fitness among students.
"I loved this idea. It gave me an excellent excuse to pull the bikes out and ride with my kids. They loved it," she said. "They could hardly sleep last night, they were so excited. We had a lot of fun together on what normally would have been just another rushed morning before school. We created wonderful memories, and it’s great exercise for me."
Parent Jackie Langenecker agreed, posting "This was so much fun. I hope we do it again" on the village's Facebook page.
Samantha Sutton, a third grade student at Wylie Elementary, said she enjoyed the ride from Community Park, however she would've enjoyed riding further from her house.
“I wish that we could bike all the way from our house. It just isn’t far enough from the park," she said.
First grade student Kyle Sutton said he had a lot of fun using his bike for the first time since spring.
“I’m having a lot of fun, mom. I wish we could do this every day!" he said.
Kim Covert, Community Education programming coordinator for Dexter, said she was impressed with how smoothly the "Bike to School" day was executed.
"Everything went really well. We had staff from all walks of school life helping us out. The weather on the way home from school was less conducive due to the rain, but students were still out riding their bikes and having fun," Covert said. "I think this is absolutely something we will do again in the future."
Students who registered for the event through the Community Education website received a free T-shirt sponsored by Curem Research, and Underground Printing in Ann Arbor.
"This was just a positive event for our community. I think all of these types of activities we do together post-tornado are a testament to how Dexter bands together," Covert said.
Editor's note: Dexter parent Barbara Read contributed to this story.