Stuyvesant Mandates Commute by Bicycle for Everyone

Stuyvesant mandates commutes by biking to school, resulting in a mixed response and the eventual abolition of sleep and time for staff and students.

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By Skye McArthur

The Stuyvesant administration announced that commute by bicycle is mandatory for all Stuyvesant students and staff starting November 14. As a result, all Student MetroCards, LIRR passes, and Commuter Benefits Program Commuter Cards have been canceled. Any form of transportation for the purposes of commuting between home and school other than biking is now prohibited.

Commuters must provide proof of their bike commute through a monitored Zoom livestream every morning and afternoon, along with daily notarized affidavits. Failure to abide by such regulations will result in the newly-appointed Assistant Principal of Bicycle Commutes Scott Thomas (along with his numerous other roles) setting off the safety shower on you in a physics lab room—but the shower will instead contain dangerous and flammable chemicals that will fatally injure you.

For students, this new bike commute will replace their Physical Education classes if the commute exceeds 20 minutes, resulting in an additional free period. The commute is now scheduled on Talos as the course “Bike Commute” every day, to be monitored by Physical Education teacher Dr. Ava Monkrana for legal reasons, from 7:50 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and from 3:35 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. All students must wear a Stuyvesant Physical Education Department uniform while commuting every day and pass occasional tests in the form of biking competitions in order to graduate. Students will not be allowed to utilize their phones or socialize with others while commuting.

For staff, a new term has been added to their contract stating that they must commute to school using a bicycle. Failure to do so will result in their immediate termination and punishment in a physics lab room, even if they are tenured. They will not receive pay during their commute (except for Monkrana, who will receive a significant bonus), nor will it count toward their teaching hours (including Monkrana). They will not be required to wear a uniform and will be permitted to use their phones but must pay a fee if they wish to store their bikes within Stuyvesant’s new first-floor bike garage or if they do not abide by these recommendations.

The idea to mandate commuting by bicycle had been promoted by the Stuyvesant Transit and Urbanism Association (STUA), as they predicted the enormous environmental benefits that would arise as a result. The numerous health benefits, along with the reputation of the subway as a crime cellar, convinced the administration to mandate biking. The Physical Education and Health Departments would save enormous sums from not needing to maintain their gymnasiums and be able to promote a healthy lifestyle on the cheap. STUA had also sought to install bike racks on the first floor, replacing the entire pool with a massive bike garage, to accommodate the thousands of bikes that need to be stored within the school, paid for by significant government spending (for students and most staff). The final straw that led to this change was the news that Stuyvesant had failed the new Physical Education Regents, hindering students’ progress toward graduation. Blame was put on teachers and students alike.

The response to this change has been mixed. Students who live near the Nassau County border in more suburban areas are very opposed to this change. Junior Marie Byrne stated, “My commute to Stuy[vesant] is one and half hours with the Port Washington and 2/3 trains. Now, my commute is something like three to four hours. And how am I supposed to do that and take four AP classes? And get sleep? And have friends?”

Students who live closer to Stuyvesant were much more supportive of the change. Sophomore Mimmi Cecelia stated, “I live in Brooklyn Heights. My commute is only 20 minutes, whether that be by bike or by train. I can’t believe the administration is actually making an effort to improve our health!”

Staff were much more opposed to this change than students. The change also eliminated all of the Physical Education classes except Monkrana’s, resulting in the Physical Education teachers being laid off, given roles to enforce the new rules, or reassigned to another school. Staff also live, on average, much farther than students, with some staff having five-hour-long commutes by bicycle or more, especially since the only bike path across the Hudson into New York City is the George Washington Bridge. The rare exceptions to this trend are math teacher Aziz Jumash, geosciences teacher Stephen McClellan, and Spectator faculty advisor Kerry Garfinkel, who already rode a bike to school every day prior to the new rule.

What is inevitable is that Stuyvesant students and staff alike will lose something: time. They will no longer have the time to do their jobs and work properly. Sleep will entirely disappear from the vocabulary of Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant will crumble as its high expectations are tarnished. It shall lose its status as the privileged school of intellectuals. It will come at the cost of saving the planet and the physical health of all. But that is completely fine, so long as those bike riders get those insane calves.