Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bike Safety Ed at Waldo (JGEMs) & Pratum

Each Fall and Spring the Bicycle Transportation Alliance teaches Bicycle Safety Education courses in schools around the city. The BSE curriculum is a 10-hour course designed to teach safe bicycling habits. The "final" is the community ride. The students break into groups of 5 or 6, and are assigned two adult chaperone volunteers. Each group completes a ride of 5-7 miles.

Instructor Robert Fox sends this report on the fall sessions at Waldo JGEMS and Pratum:
Well, we did it again. Fall Bike Safety Eduction classes were a great success. As you know, we taught at both JGEMS (Jane Goodall Environmental Magnet School) and Pratum School. Just one class at each school: 30 6th. graders at JGEMS, and a combined 3rd, 4th, 5th grades class at Pratum.

At Waldo we had 2 kids that could not ride at the beginning of the week. And thanks to the mom who came up to me and made me aware of the situation about her daughter. We went right outside, got her a bike, and she was riding it in less than one minute. no exaggeration, I mean one time down the slight grassy slope coasting, and the next time she was pedaling away. Come to find out, she has had experience in swimming, ballet, soccer, and other physical activity. Great balance and excellent motor skills. I worked with her two more days after school and she did great on the community ride. Another non-riding student could not stay after school but one day, but after about one hour, I finally had him riding! He was not ready to go on the community ride, but I am hoping he can continue to practice at home in the future.

Highlights included the kid who just could not get the hang of "emergency stopping." He flipped over his handlebars all 4 times he attempted emergency stopping. Nothing injured but his pride, and the class was quite entertained! The "hot rod" kids who is riding "no hands" and singing while others are white-knuckling the grips while they wobble down the track - some kids are very frightened of being on the road and are so stiff and tense they can barely ride. Others are so oblivious to the cars they just cruise along, not a care in the world. I guess that is what being a kid is all about.

Pratum is a great little school. It was a little different teaching 3rd and 4th graders, I had not done that before. I know some of the traffic concepts and intersection practice was over their heads, but the hands-on stuff they could certainly handle.

One little 3rd grader was just leaning how to ride, with very limited skills when we started the Bike program. One of the dedicated teachers really took the time to work with her after we got her fitted with helmet and bike. She rode as best she could as the class progressed through the drills and exercises. She crashed, skinned her knee, cried, got up and did it again. She really persevered, and by Friday, she rode the whole community ride! You could just see her self-confidence swelling - she even asked to lead the group on the ride when it was not her turn - by the time we got back from riding on the busy street and down a long dirt road next to the railroad tracks, she had named her bike "Speedy" and could not keep the smile off her face - her mom brought her personal bike to school for me to fix. I removed the training wheels and pumped up the tires on her pink "Barbie" bike. It is way too small for her, but she rode it at school during recess for two days. Teachers and other students were quite impressed with her ability to ride a bike. I know it's something she will never forget.

Thanks to all the volunteers, and thanks for your expert help. Be safe over the winter and I'll be in touch for the big spring season.


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