A new kind of graduate is rolling out of the Edmonds School District. As of this June, more than 2,600 students will have graduated from an innovative Basics of Bicycling program that started in fall 2010.
The three-week bike safety program for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders teaches safe habits at an early age, makes exercise fun and instills healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Basics of Bicycling curriculum was developed by the Cascade Bicycle Club based on older curriculum written by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking. Throughout the school year, the program rotates from one school to another via a utility trailer of 30 bikes in tow.
“I thought the class was really fun because I don’t get to ride my bike much because at home we don’t really have space. So this is a great opportunity for me,” said Darian Conn, one of the program graduates and a featured student in a video produced to celebrate the growth of the program.
“When the program began with our first 30 cyclists, we were nervous about what could happen with so many kids riding at the same time,” said Jennie Hershey, a physical education teacher at Mountlake Terrace Elementary. “As it turned out, the students were excited to try the new bikes on the safety course and they knew this was not the time to go crazy.”
Since then, the program has grown from three schools to 13 schools. “The word about this program is spreading,” said Jenni McCloughan, P.E. teacher at Maplewood Parent Cooperative. “Now I get students, parents, teachers and principals asking me about the program and wanting to know how they can get involved.”
The Edmonds Bicycle Advocacy Group (EBAG) deserves credit for coming up with the idea for local schools. “I’m also active in the Cascade Bicycle Club and was familiar with the Basics of Bicycling program offered at other schools,” said Peter Hallson. “EBAG thought this was a great idea and we contacted Cascade and community members with hopes of raising funds to launch our own local program.”
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to educate more students about safe bicycling and help these students develop healthy lifetime habits,” added Julie Salathe, education director at Cascade Bicycle Club. “Spring is a good time to be out biking and May is Cascade’s region-wide Bike Month, featuring Bike to School Month and Day on Friday (May 18).”
In addition to financial support from EBAG, Swedish/Edmonds sponsors this program and produced the bike video.