Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Students Read and Ride! A Social Venture

Ward Elementary school started the first “Read and Ride” program in October 2009 for students to ride donated exercise bikes while reading fun magazines and books. We have had a tremendous interest in this program since it is a perfect solution to promoting literacy, while also preventing childhood obesity. In addition, we have found ways to promote recycling, teach geography and math. We filled an empty classroom with 30 exercise bikes for teachers to sign-up for 15-minute periods to bring their class for every student to have their own stationary bike to ride while reading a fun magazine or book.

In addition to the “Read and Ride” room, we had an additional 11 exercise bikes in individual classrooms for students to read and ride when they completed a class assignment, as a reward, or when they simply needed to release some extra energy. Teachers commented that when students had a way to burn some energy in a constructive manner, they were less likely to engage in destructive or distracting behaviors.

Last school year, our students pedaled 5,650 miles! We calculated this since most students pedal an average of one mile in their 10-15 minutes in the “Read and Ride” room and most classes have an average of 25 students. This mileage does not include the 11 classrooms that had an individual bike since we had no idea how much it was utilized.

The 3 classes who visited the “Read and Ride” room the most showed better Reading Comprehension test scores on the NC End-Of-Grade tests and overall interest in reading than any of the other classes. We are not able to attribute 100% of this to the “Read and Ride” program, but we can only imagine that it must have been a positive impact on their reading comprehension scores.

We were able to collect all the exercise bikes and magazines from donations from members of our community within one month of starting. We used a variety of methods to spread the word about our need, including the following:

-Flyers went home with all students

-Sent press release to our local newspapers, radio and television stations

-Posted a listing on to announce our need for exercise bikes

-Posted a listing on to announce our need for exercise bikes

-Emailed local media coordinators to collect used magazines

-Asked parents, teachers and friends to post on their Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts that our school needed their help in collecting exercise bikes and magazines

-Displayed flyers around town, including the Goodwill and Salvation Army (since they do not accept exercise bike donations due to liability concerns)

-Displayed flyers at the local bike shops to collect unwanted exercise bikes when customers came to purchase a newer model. (This established a partnership with one local bike shop for help later when minor repairs were needed. We posted a banner from their bike shop in the “Read and Ride” room in exchange.)

Initially, the postcard magazine subscription inserts became a problem as they would fall out of the magazines onto the floor making a mess. I asked students if anyone wanted to start receiving magazines in the mail and the responses were an overwhelming, “Yes!” So I encouraged them to ask their parents and grandparents for magazine subscriptions for birthday and Christmas presents. Our school plans to expand on this idea by using magazine subscriptions as a fundraiser in the near future.

Overall, our “Read and Ride” program has been a huge success!

  • We have used Google Analytics to track the thousands of visitors from around the world who have visited our website.
  • Students have used math to record the miles their class pedaled.
  • Students read an additional 1,412 hours during their “Read and Ride” visits.
  • Community members prevented 41 exercise bikes from going to the landfill.
  • Community members have donated hundreds of magazines to be reused multiple times before being recycled after one use.
  • Many students are now more interested in reading and they are even receiving magazine subscriptions as a result.
  • The additional physical activity helps prevent childhood obesity and exposes students to the joy of bike riding.

For photos, videos, FAQ’s, our timeline and to download a free flyer and press release template, visit: to start a program at your school.

Scott Ertl, M.Ed.
Ward Elementary School Counselor
National “Read and Ride” Program Coordinator
3775 Fraternity Church Road
Winston-Salem, NC 27127
(336) 774-4674
Email: [email protected]

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