Stoddert students learned their A, B, C's when they took bike and pedestrian safety classes last week during their physical education class thanks to the Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA) and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). But ABC has a whole new meaning now: Air, Brakes, and Chain.
- Improve the safety of walking and bicycling routes to school;
- Teach children safer walking and bicycling skills; and
- Promote and encourage these forms of transportation.
Students watched an informative video and then WABA's Dupree Heard taught them important rules of the road. He went over how to properly wear a helmet and how to signal for turns or stops while riding. He taught students to check the air, breaks and chain on their bikes before even getting on.
Next up, the students lined up to put on helmets and get ready to ride the course the WABA instructors had set up around the gym. Many students were comfortable on bikes and took off easily; others struggled a bit and received help from their teacher, Mitch Wagner, and the WABA instructors, Glen Harrison and Dupree Heard.
When Harrison first spoke with students, he took a short survey to see how many of them knew how to ride a bike and how they got to school. Only one child rode his bike to school, though about of the half students in the class of nearly 20 walked to school.
While riding, students practiced steering around orange cones, signaling their turns and then crossing an intersection. At the "intersection", Wagner would push a large tire in front of the students' bikes, making sure they knew to fully stop and wait for the "car" to pass through.
At the end of the class students received comic books with bike safety illustrations.
WABA works with as many as 13 D.C. schools a year to do bike and pedestrian safety training at no expense to the schools. DDOT helps fund the program through the safe routes to school (SRTS) program that focuses on the five E’s of SRTS: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation. The classes at Stoddert were just one element of SRTS.
Harrison said the engineering aspect involves rethinking the way student drop-off and pick-up works to provide safer options for kids who do want to walk or bike to school.
In addition to offering training during the school year, WABA also works with the District's recreation centers to offer seminars during the summer. They even host a kids mini triathlon to introduce them to biking as a sport.
To learn more about SRTS and to see how your school can get involved, check out the website.