Students complete bike safety program at 13 schools in Edmonds School District

A new kind of graduate is rolling out of the Edmonds School District. This June, more than 4,600 students will have graduated from an innovative Basics of Bicycling program since it started in fall 2010.

The three-week bike safety program for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders teaches safe habits at an early age, makes exercise fun and instills healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Basics of Bicycling curriculum was developed by the Cascade Bicycle Club based on older curriculum written by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking. Throughout the school year, the program rotates from one school to another via 30 bikes towed in a utility trailer.

“I thought the class was really fun because I don’t get to ride my bike much because at home we don’t really have space. So this is a great opportunity for me,” said Darian Conn, one of the program graduates and featured students in the video produced to celebrate the growth of the program.

“When the program began with our first 30 cyclists, we were nervous about what could happen with so many kids riding at the same time,” said Jennie Hershey, a P.E. teacher at Mountlake Terrace Elementary. “As it turned out, the students were excited to try the new bikes on the safety course and they knew this was not the time to go crazy.”

Since then, the program has grown from three schools to 13 schools. “The word about this program is spreading,” said Jenni McCloughan, P.E. teacher at Maplewood Parent Cooperative. “Now I get students, parents, teachers and principals asking me about the program and wanting to know how they can get involved.”

The Edmonds Bicycle Advocacy Group (EBAG) deserves credit for coming up with the idea for local schools. “I’m also active in the Cascade Bicycle Club and was familiar with the Basics of Bicycling program offered at other schools,” explained Edmonds resident Peter Hallson. “EBAG thought this was a great idea and we contacted Cascade and community members with hopes of raising funds to launch our own local program.”

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to educate more students about safe bicycling and help these students develop healthy lifetime habits,” added Julie Salathé, education director at Cascade Bicycle Club.

In addition to financial support from EBAG, Swedish/Edmonds Hospital sponsors this program and produced the bike video. The Hazel Miller Foundation and Verdant Health also provided support.