Schools now have a bike fleet to teach safe cycling
To make the most of its limited Safe Routes to School funding, Cleveland Heights looked to the example of the Chagrin Falls Safe Routes to School program. Its founder said that assembling a bike fleet to teach students safe cycling was the single best thing their program had done.
With that endorsement, Cleveland Heights city employee Jennifer Kuzma worked to purchase a trailer to convey bikes and other gear from school to school. The fleet includes 24 bikes, plus helmets and a compressor to fill tires.
First to use the fleet was Julie Lustic, physical education (PE) teacher at Canterbury Elementary School. She reported, “This is a fantastic addition to our curriculum. Many of our students do not know how to ride or do not have access to a bike. They have learned a lot, including, for some, how to ride.” A third-grader in Lustic’s class said, “Getting to ride bikes and learning about safe cycling is the best thing I’ve done in school since I started!”
The bike fleet moved to Fairfax Elementary School for the month of October. PE teacher Alice Stratton taught a three-week bike safety unit to all third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. “A great result of the program was seeing six non-riders learn to ride," said Stratton. "I would take them out on the playground during my planning periods and let them practice in a big open space. It was thrilling to see them figure it out. I hope to see all CH-UH kids biking with a helmet and using hand signals."
The fleet will likely go to Gearity Professional Development School next. The hope is that all the district's elementary and middle schools will take advantage of it.
Safe Routes to School is a federal program that aims to create safe, convenient and fun opportunities to encourage children to bicycle and walk to and from school. The goal is to increase their safety, and address the alarming trends of childhood obesity and inactivity.
Mary Dunbar of Heights Bicycle Coalition
Heights Bicycle Coalition is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to educating and encouraging Heights community members to use bicycles as a sustainable and healthy form of transportation and recreation. Mary Dunbar, Heights Bicycle Coalition Vice President, submitted this article.