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Plain Dealer: Biking gets lots of mileage among both students, adults

From Michael Scott's Environment column from the June 5, 2010 edition of the Plain Dealer:

Bay Village schools students bicycled around the world last month.

Now, this might bring to mind that famous scene in the film "E.T." -- the one where Elliott and the neighborhood kids (their bikes powered, apparently, by the extraterrestrials' advanced mental abilities) go airborne over the stunned heads of federal agents.

It's not like that.

But nearly 1,000 Bay Village students in grades 5-12 did log 28,052 miles (the circumference of the Earth is about 24,860 miles) bicycling to and from school for three weeks in May.

The bicycling boom is part of an overall effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the school district by cutting back on automobile use and by educating students about their options for more sustainable living.

Go to snipurl.com/baybikes to read more about the Bay Village biking event from our sister news organization, Sun Newspapers.

But Bay kids were not the only pedal pushers.

More than 300 Eastlake North High school kids -- and more than a handful of teachers and administrators -- also made a sustainability statement in late May, culminating in Bike to Work Day on May 21.

Sophomore Nigel Lausin and social studies teacher (and former BMX state champ) Bill Kennelly were behind the bike-to-school week at the Lake County school.

"I love bikes and I've been looking for some students who felt the same way," Kennelly said. "This year our bike club has about eight active members, but we were thrilled to get so much participation this week."

Read this column on cleveland.com to see photos from Eastlake North's bike week.

Meanwhile, a record-breaking 25 Northeast Ohio companies signed up for Bike to Work Day on May 21, encouraging their employees to commute by bike, according to the sustainability organization, Green City Blue Lake.

Student environmental summit: Any movement with a decent chance to sustain its momentum has to have kids on board.

The 100 or so middle-school students who took part in the first-ever Lake Erie Student Summit in late April at the Great Lakes Science Center certainly appeared to be maintaining momentum on sustainability.

Janelle Horton, a science and technology teacher at The Intergenerational School in Cleveland, said her middle school students "became deeply concerned about water pollution and advocates of water conservation during this process."

The Cleveland students have started an environmental club, performed a water audit and built informational websites and PowerPoint slide shows about sustainability.

"One of the things that we love most about working with students is that they are the voice of the future," said Stephanie Smith of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, which sponsored the event here after a similar show in Milwaukee.

"They're going to be making the decisions, and the more information we give them about Lake Erie and all the lakes, the better chance they have to make wise decisions."

Go to snipurl.com/enviro-summit to see a cleveland.com video interview with Smith, students and a teacher.

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