March 6, 2013 4 Comments
If you were an elementary school student just getting comfortable on your bike and navigating your neighborhood, how cool would it be to be part of a bike club to work on skills and ride with your friends?
It’s no wonder that so many kids are on sports teams, in scouts or band, or participate in other activities. It’s super fun to get together with some other like-minded kids to build skills and learn from a coach and each other. And biking clearly has the same potential: so many adults enjoy the social aspects of cycling and belong to a club or a team or just appreciate riding with friends.
So a bike club for kids seems like a no-brainer, right? But there aren’t many at the elementary school level in Seattle. That is beginning to change, however, and one of the more interesting new initiatives in Seattle’s bike to school world is an after-school club recently founded at Loyal Heights Elementary in Ballard. We’ve touched on it before, highlighting it as one of the many promising 2013 programs receiving some support from Safe Routes to School mini-grants this year.
I’m excited to report the club has been formed and the fun has begun! From Loyal Heights parent and bike to school organizer Shannon Koller:
The Loyal Heights After-School Urban Cycling Club is off and rolling after a very successful first meeting last Friday. Seventeen 3rd – 5th graders are participating in this new after-school club, 10 of which are girls! After learning each others names, we started off with helmet fit, then went on to ABC quick check and how to lock up your bike. Sensing a growing energy in the group, we got the kids on their bikes and taught them the basics of starting, stopping, standing, and shifting.
The kids really seemed to like the ability to learn something, then immediately practice it. This week we will teach hand signals, road signs, rules of the road, then practice skills like rock dodge, scanning, quick stop, slalom and more. Theory and application is the center of the curriculum and we will eventually be taking our lessons on to the neighborhood streets in April for organized rides to the Ballard Library, Sunset Overlook Park, and the Ballard Greenway. Each week kids will practice riding through roundabouts, unmarked intersections, bike lanes, and other urban infrastructure that they will encounter in our neighborhood.
The cool thing about this bike club is that it’s focused on helping kids develop real-world riding skills appropriate to Seattle and specifically to the neighborhood around Loyal Heights and Ballard. This will empower these kids to become independent, competent urban cyclists!
Shannon also reports that Loyal Heights is already planning for Bike to School month, and shared some early details. They expect to hold a kickoff event on Saturday, April 27 on the school playground with a bike skills workshop, bike adjustment station, helmet sale, and more. Kickoff events are a great way to start bike to school months or springtime biking in general, by giving families some initial support and encouragement, and simply providing a specific time to get the community focused on the potential for kids getting to school under their own power. Loyal Heights also plans to hold organized neighborhood rides to take place right after the event.
Loyal Heights is also considering organizing some bike trains too, possibly on Bike to School Day. We’ll be posting a little more info on bike trains in the near future.
It’s awesome to hear that schools are already launching springtime bike to school programs!