Spring 2011 WABA Youth Bicycle Education in Washington, DC

With the support of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT), WABA maintains a cargo van containing bikes, helmets, and all materials necessary for delivery of the youth bicycle education program for schools participating in the Safe Routes to School program. WABA staff schedule and teach classes in DC elementary schools and in DC Department of Recreation Centers in the summer months.

In past years many DC schools have participated such as: Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, Bancroft Elementary School; Capitol Hill Cluster School, Watkins Campus; DC Preparatory Academy, Eaton Elementary School, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, Montgomery Elementary School, Murch Elementary School; Oyster/Adams Bilingual School, Oyster Campus; Patterson Elementary School, Two Rivers Public Charter School, Whittier Elementary School. In 2011 six additional public, public charter and private schools will receive planning assistance to help make biking and walking a fun and healthy way to get to school. If you are interested in improving safety for walkers and bicyclists at your school, get help from DDOT to create a plan for doing so. For more information, contact the Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Jennifer Hefferan, at 202-671-2227 or jennifer.hefferan@dc.gov.

WABA also offers fee-for-service youth bicycle education classes and bike rodeos for community organizations, private firms or non-profits. A great example of this is the training WABA provides for the Casey Trees water-by-bike program for summer youth interns. Another example is the ADA Cherry Blossom Family Bike Rally where WABA provided a bicycle skills “rodeo”, a Learn how to Ride youth bike
clinic and short signed bike ride routes; or the upcoming Town of Chevy Chase Bike Day where a number of fun bike activities, such as a bike mounted smoothie blender, as well a WABA bike rodeo will be helping to promote community bicycling.

To find out more about these opportunities call WABA’s Bicycle Education Director, Glen Harrison, at 202-518-0524 x212 or email safetyed@waba.org to schedule us for your event.

Alexandria SRTS: Training Wheels Off!

A Safe Routes to School Bike Rodeo  in Alexandria produced some promising new riders at Tucker Elementary School this past weekend. After educating approximately 60 student riders (and parents) about the basics of smart bicycling, handing out free helmets and ushering riders through a long skills course, WABA education staff started removing training wheels from some of the youngest rider’s bikes. The results were pretty amazing and after a few minutes of “pedals-off” scooting one 7 year old girl was ready to put her pedals back on. To the amazement of her father she took-off like she had been riding for years, a real pro!

Happy dad watches as daughter rides for the first time.

Three more riders were liberated from their training wheels and several more made real progress towards freedom on 2 wheels. Glen Harrison, WABA bicycle education staff, encourages more parents to teach their children how to ride a bike by using this simple, effective method.

1) Lower the seat and remove the pedals (the left one is reverse threaded)

2) Have child scoot their bike with both feet on smooth, level surface (don’t hold the bike or rider, this will only hinder progress)

3) Insist on practicing until the rider can balance and steer in a straight line with both feet off the ground for 20-30 feet.

Student rides!

4) Raise the seat and re-install pedals.

5) Show rider how to step down on one raised pedal to create forward movement.

6) Rider should sit up, arms straight (but not locked) and looking out in front of the bike about 20 feet (don’t look at feet or front wheel).

7) Give gentle push on back to help get started until rider’s feet can “find” the other pedal.

8) Teach rider how to stop! 🙂

International Walk (or Bike!) to School Day!

Tomorrow, October 6th, is International Walk and Bike to School Day. Thousands of schoolchildren in Maryland, DC and Virginia will be gathering in parks, school yards and cul-de-sacs and then walking or biking to school. In the District of Columbia, 13 schools are hosting events. They include: Payne Elementary, Tyler Elementary, Watkins Elementary, Whittier Elementary, Peabody Early Learning Center, Maury Elementary, EL Haynes PCS, Brent Elementary, Janney Elementary, Eaton Elementary, Kimball Elementary, Leckie Elementary, Stuart Hobson Middle School and the Lowell School. WABA has supported all of these schools with Safe Walking and Biking classes and bike rodeos to encourage more children to walk or bike to school.

In an era where childhood obesity has become a national epidemic, WABA has embraced and promoted the Safe Routes to School Program as a very effective tool in what should be an arsenal to combat this troubling trend.  DDOT has won federal funds to repair or install sidewalks, install traffic calming measures, paint crosswalks, and make many other hardscape improvements to make the roads and sidewalks around schools much safer for children to walk. WABA’s role includes the encouragement and education portion of Safe Routes and we’ve been a proud partner with DDOT since the inception of the Safe Routes to School program. With Safe Routes to School in place, WABA hopes that children and adults will view walking and biking as a lifelong healthy habit.

The Replacements

An entire new fleet of WABA Education Department bikes was recently put into service and is ready for the new school year.  The WABA youth bicycle safety education program is run in Maryland through a grant from the Maryland State Highway Administration.  WABA coordinates and trains public school teachers and staff to provide bicycle safety education at their schools.  Annually, the program reaches over 5,000 students in the Washington, DC/Baltimore region.  Earlier this year, the trailers were vandalized and the entire fleet of bikes was stolen.  After some repairs and upgrades to better secure the trailer, WABA has put 20 new bikes into service.   The fleet of mostly Redline Roam BMX bikes was purchased with generous support from Oasis Bike Works in Fairfax, VA.