Conkey Cruisers helping RCSD students get bikes amid bus driver shortage

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — For some Rochester City School District students, some final things to add to the school supply list include a helmet and lock to go along with their brand new bike, as they get ready for the first day of school Thursday.

In our continuing coverage of the busing crisis in Rochester, News10NBC Reporter Jenny Ly went to one of the schools in the city directly impacted, where some parents said they are relieved that something is actually being done for their children.

“I think that this is a beautiful thing that Conkey Cruisers are doing for the kids and the community because this is what it’s going to take for the community to come together so that the kids can get their education because that’s number one,” said Dana Davis, whose daughter is a student at School #22.

Early Thursday morning, the bell is going to ring signaling the start of a fresh, new school year.

“This is an exciting day for Rochester. I think with all the criticism that our district takes every day, that the transportation crisis and the new bike to school initiative is going to be a paradigm change for our district,” said Theresa Borick, executive director of Conkey Cruisers.

Conkey Cruisers is a grassroots neighborhood bicycle program leading the charge, along with other partners Exercise Express, the Rochester Cycling Alliance and Rochester Community Bikes to get students literally geared up for school.

With just days’ notice, students and families from schools #10, 17 and 22 were not left with many options with no transportation.

“It would be difficult for him to do certain activities like even after school activities will be a hassle for him to get to or not,” said Jesus DeJesus, who has a child attending School #22.

In response to this crisis, the community stepped up to lend a helping hand.

“We have received several donations from various individuals and agencies. We have purchased bikes from Walmart – brand new bikes from Walmart – so that our community can answer the call and get these students to school safely,” said Karen Rogers, owner of Exercise Express, one of the partners in this effort.

While the driver shortage is far from resolved, it is not stopping the students eager to start a long, overdue normal school year.

“From the school level, I’m just happy that we’re moving forward with the partnerships that we’ve been able to create,” said Dr. Clinton Bell, principal of School #22.

“I feel good only because I don’t have to walk to school, or I don’t have to take the [city] bus. I can take a personal mine that’s mine,” said Mariana Davis Boone, a student at School #22.

Davis-Boone’s older sister is now attending middle school, so she would have had to walk to school by herself.

“It’s helping us. It shows us that a lot of people are caring,” said Justin Sanpel, Jr. who is a student at School #22.

Bikes will also be provided to Schools 10 and 17. After Wednesday, nearly 150 RCSD students will literally be geared up and ready to go for their first day of school tomorrow. Conkey Cruisers is still looking for bikes. The organization says they are in need of 20” bikes.

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