by Lisa Montanaro of The Bike Campaign
September 26, 2022
Autumn is finally here in Yolo County and that means cooler temperatures, brighter foliage colors, and fall harvest. It’s also back to school season for local kids and many will be commuting to and from school on two wheels thanks to the wonderful bike skills training program hosted by The Bike Campaign for schools in Davis and Woodland.
Close your eyes and think back: Do you remember the first time you rode a bike? Remember how it felt when your feet left the ground, gripped the pedals, and you could feel yourself moving? Exhilarating and empowering! The Bike Campaign wants every kid to experience the uplifting feeling that comes from riding a bike. But sadly, not all kids do. For kids that don’t have a parent or other family member that knows how to ride a bike, it may not be a skill passed onto them at home. So where does a kid learn how to ride a bike? Enter bike skills training at local schools!
The Bike Campaign’s Bike Skills Training Program fills a gap for kids that may not have had the opportunity to ride, don’t own a bike, or need to improve their skills to feel more confident on two wheels. Bike riding skills focus on proper bike and helmet fitting, maintaining a working bike, and learning the rules of the road and how to ride with a group. This past August, The Bike Campaign worked in collaboration with City of Davis’ new Safe Routes to School Director, Daniela Tavares, and Davis Police Officer, John Ney, at five elementary schools: North Davis, Montgomery, Patwin, Korematsu and Birch Lane. Kids ranging in age from five to twelve years old were given one-on-one attention to upgrade their biking skills. Over forty kids were taught how to ride a two-wheel bike using the easy “Balance Bike” method, while more than two hundred others improved their ability to ride in a straight line, do hand signals, and conduct themselves safely in simulated traffic conditions.
The Bike Campaign provided two fleets of new bicycles to use for the trainings. Staff at the elementary schools were included and often commented, “I learned so much!” Families were encouraged to visit the Bike Garage at The Cannery for free bike repair and, in some cases, free bikes for families unable to afford them. The Bike Campaign is currently booking several other schools as part of those schools’ Physical Education curriculum during the school day in both Davis and Woodland. The goal is to ensure that every second grader is given the opportunity to learn to ride a two-wheel bike and that every fifth grader learns and practices the rules of the road. Bike-savvy parents and grandparents are encouraged to participate in the training programs. (If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, contact Bike Campaign Director Maria Contreras Tebbutt at email@example.com.)
The overall mission of The Bike Campaign is to reduce car trips to schools while increasing bike safety and joy. Through the Bike Skills Training Program, kids learn how to ride a bike in a safe, supportive, and fun environment that improves their skills with the goal of making them a life-long rider. Kids can then ride to school as a means of transportation, as well as ride for pleasure with friends and family. Once kids learn safe cycling skills, parents feel more comfortable eliminating car trips to schools. The result? Less cars, traffic, and congestion on the roads, which decreases air pollution in the environment. In addition, there will be less chaos during school drop off and pick up times which often bring long lines of cars snaking through school parking lots and spilling out onto the streets.
Where will all these bikes be parked once the kids get to school? At bike racks! Most schools in Davis and Woodland have bike racks for kids to use, and some are adding more on, including Holmes Junior High and North Davis. As bike use increases, schools will continue to add on more bike rack storage.
Riding a bike to school provides kids with a built-in form of fresh air and exercise, a way to release energy before being stuck inside, and a chance to engage in social interaction. Sounds like these kids are onto something. Kind of makes you want to jump on your bike and enjoy an autumn ride. ‘Tis the season for bike riding!
This article was written by Lisa Montanaro, commissioned by The Bike Campaign. For more information about how to “Drive Less. Ride More.”, contact Maria Contreras Tebbutt at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.TheBikeCampaign.com.
Lisa Montanaro is the author of the book The Ultimate Life Organizer and is a freelance writer for print and online publications. She is currently revising her debut novel. When not writing, Lisa helps organizations and people be more productive. And when not working or writing, Lisa can be found on two wheels cycling!