Grand Valley Bikes promotes bike safety through schools

Courtesy photo/Grand Valley Bikes

By Grand Valley Bikes

The City of Grand Junction, in partnership with Grand Valley Bikes (GVB) was awarded $38,000 in 2011 by the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program for comprehensive projects that engage District 51 elementary students to walk and bike safely to school.

The Colorado Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program creates a sustainable culture of walking and bicycling at each school by increasing the safety skill-set of students, as well as incorporating parents and guardians to monitor routes to school.

Children in physical education classes learn walking and bicycling road-safe skills from GVB bicycle instructors and practice them in a bicycle rodeo course that includes multi-colored cones, sidewalk chalk, helmets and a fleet of bicycles.

“Studies show that kids who are regularly active tend to do better in school and on tests because there is more oxygen going to the brain.” said Josh Warinner, Tope Elementary School P.E. teacher. Tope Elementary was the first District 51 School to teach a Safe Routes to School program this past November.

For the 400 students, school staff, and GVB instructors who participated, the day was a fun-filled success.

GVB looks forward to the same results at Rocky Mountain Elementary April 9-19, 2012.

GVB has applied for another SRTS grant in hopes of expanding the program to three additional Grand Junction elementary schools next school year.

SRTS is sustained by each school and student instruction continues each year in a two-part approach. The first year a school hosts the SRTS program, GVB instructors arrive with the bicycle fleet and teach the curriculum to students and the P.E. teacher, distribute materials to the parents and staff about the program and what to expect, and throw an end of the school-year “Walking and Wheeling” week-long encouragement program. Through the encouragement program community partners reinforce the SRTS lessons and children receive positive reinforcement when they walk or bike to school.

The second school year kicks off with a Bike to School encouragement week that incorporates all SRTS-participating schools. P.E. teachers check-out the mobile bicycle classroom and conduct the program independently.

Increasing active transportation to school has an impact on the larger problems of childhood obesity and lack of physical activity, traffic congestion, poor air quality around schools, and traffic safety.

“The City of Grand Junction is committed to accommodating all modes of transportation and believes programs that encourage children to walk and bike safely to school contribute to achieving our goal of ‘Becoming the Most Livable Community West of the Rockies’” says Kathy Portner, Neighborhood Services Manager for the City of Grand Junction and liaison to the SRTS program.

SRTS supports the mission of Grand Valley Bikes (GVB), which is to improve safety and infrastructure for cyclists in the Grand Valley.

The 501c3 bicycle advocacy organization formed from a group of concerned commuter and recreational cyclists who believe that bicycling is a sustainable transportation alternative with health, environmental, and community benefits.

GVB plans to use the bicycle fleet in perpetuity to teach thousands of people how to become safe and confident commuters.


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