Orange County Public Schools, Florida Safe Routes to School, the Winter Park Health Foundation and the Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program are working together to lower cyclist injury and death rates by teaching school-aged children bike safety on actual bikes.
FSRS’ purchase of two trailers containing 27 age-appropriate bicycles provides students the opportunity to learn safety, as well as hands-on knowledge of how to properly secure a helmet and ride a bike.
In the hands-on training, the students learn to get off the bike to look around obstacles, like fences or bushes, to watch the ground ahead for potential hazards and to ride single file in the bike lane.
“Having a trailer that we share is a great benefit because it allows us to give the students plenty of practice with their skills and it gives students an opportunity to apply skills and safety rules that we teach, making the whole lesson more personal and meaningful to the students,” said Randi Topps, Brookshire Elementary School physical education teacher.
Malachi Fleming, a fourth-grader at Brookshire, enjoyed his class’ time with the bikes and said he was excited to almost feel confident enough to ride without training wheels.
“Each year I have from 10 to 20 percent of students who do not know how to ride a bike by the time they attend the class (third through fifth grades). Students are very proud of themselves when they finally learn,” Topps said. “In addition to physical fitness and learning to ride a bicycle, we have noticed an increase in the number of students wearing their bicycle helmets.”
A Winter Park Health Foundation grant provided bike helmets, signage, locks and supplies; and Lyndy Moore, a FTBSEP regional trainer, who is best known as “the Bike Lady,” helped OCPS secure the trailers and equipment as well as trained the PE teachers.
After being trained, the PE teacher can request the trailer to his/her campus. Trailers travel from school to school and typically stay two weeks per school.
“Riding a bike is an important skill to give people independence and provide an enjoyable form of physical activity. Plus, the lessons of bicycle safety are a lead-up to driver safety, as many of the concepts and rules are the same,” Topps said.