Spring has sprung! That means more outdoor activities and kids walking and biking to school! The Through the 5 E’s (evaluation, encouragement, education, enforcement, and engineering), Safe Routes to School programs throughout the nation strive to encourage walking and biking to school. Not only does this reduce traffic in busy zones, it is also a healthy habit!
Thompson School District’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program works with local agencies, organizations, cities, and developers to try to make walking and biking to school a safe, fun and healthy activity for students in elementary and middle school. Activity before and after school does not only improve physical health, it also gives a boost to a student’s brain power. As little as 7 minutes of physical activity before a test has proven to boost test scores by up to 17%! Regular physical activity also helps with a child’s memory and focus.
Because of this, TSD’s Safe Routes to School program works with Safe Kids Larimer County to make sure students are aware of the importance of protecting their most valuable asset – the brain! The partnership with Safe Kids’ Strap and Snap program to teach 3rd graders helmet safety goes hand in hand with the Safe Routes goals. A main focus of SRTS bike safety training is teaching kids to always wear a helmet when on a bike, scooter, skateboard or skates!
May is Bike to School Month and with the warmer spring weather it’s a great time to encourage students to get out and ride! An easy way to get kids riding is to start a bike train to and from school – a group of neighborhood riders of all ages that can meet up at different locations in their neighborhood to ride together.
It’s like a carpool—without the car—with the added benefits of having safety in numbers (a bigger group of bicyclists can be easily seen by traffic), added exercise, and visits with friends and neighbors.
To start your own neighborhood bike train:
- Invite families who live nearby to bike (or walk) together. (or start a sign-up sheet at your school)
- Create a route and take a test ride.
- Decide how often the group will ride together.
- Be sure everyone knows how to be safe on their bike – review hand signals, look for traffic when crossing a street, and ALWAYS wear helmets.
- Have fun! (create theme days, decorate your helmets, enjoy nature!)
- Click here for more tips on creating your own bike train.
Written by Mechelle Martz-Mayfield, Thompson School District Safe Routes to School Coordinator