Fifth-grader Max Robson rode his bike or walked to Foothill Elementary School every day for the past five years.

When he broke his arm in fourth grade, he walked. When the temperature plummeted below zero and driving snow created blizzard conditions in second grade, he walked -- carrying his bike and with tears coursing down his face. When the weather was nice, he sometimes traded his bike for a unicycle.

"No. 1, it's fun," he said. "And it's good for the environment."

Max logged 754 round trips to school, totaling almost 1,200 miles. His parents, especially when he was younger, made most of the trips with him.

Along with Max, four other Foothill fifth-graders -- Henry Hawk, Walter Reuss, Alana McClements and Ethan Csapo -- walked or rode to school more than 600 times since first grade. That's when the school started keeping track of alternative transportation through a program called Boltage, which includes a device that scans a card students attach to their backpack.

When the program first started, the school gave awards such as iPods to those who walked and biked the most. This year, students were recognized at a school assembly.


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"It's become part of the Foothill culture," said Wendy Kahn, Max's mom.

Ethan said he's mainly walked in fifth grade after breaking his wrist while riding his scooter.

"It's better for the environment and your body, and it's more interesting," he said.

Alana said she's biked to school "pretty much forever."

"I live really close," she said. "It wouldn't be worth it to get a ride. I know I'm helping the environment. That feels good."

Foothill Elementary School fifth-grader Max Robson rides his bike home in the rain after school Thursday.
Foothill Elementary School fifth-grader Max Robson rides his bike home in the rain after school Thursday. ( Jeremy Papasso )

The students said biking on slippery, snowpacked sidewalks and streets was most challenging, leading to lots of minor spills.

"You fall a lot and get wet," said Max, who plans to continue biking to class when he starts at Casey Middle School in the fall. "Sometimes I thought that I just wanted a ride, but I never actually got in the car."