BICYCLE SAFETY EDUCATION
The Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, in partnership with the Vermont Agency of Transportation and Vermont SAFE KIDS, works to educate Vermont children and their parents about bicycle safety.
Under a previous contract with VTrans, the Coalition has trained bicycle safety instructors in the BikeSmart safety curriculum. Instructors are available to go into local elementary schools, to present a 45-minute to 1-hour interactive presentation to school classes and small assemblies.
BikeSmart emphasizes safe "bicycle driving," with four core skills.
BikeSmart ties into the Vermont Frameworks for education. Educators may want to read our 2-page description linking the curriculum to the frameworks.
In the Spring of 2005, we served a total of 60 schools across the state with our BikeSmart program. We have about 30 volunteer instructors in the program -- thanks to our great instructors for making this program a reality! The schools and classroom teachers gave us great reviews! Here's some quotes from the schools about BikeSmart.
In 2005 and 2006, more schools requested the program than VTrans and the Coalition were able to serve. The program also reached more schools (145) than it was originally scoped to accommodate (110). In addition, some BikeSmart-trained instructors provided instruction in the schools without the financial and administrative support of VTrans or the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition.
Interested in teaching? We do still need instructors in key areas of the state, particularly Manchester/Bennington and surrounds. Our instructor corps consists of bicycle enthusiasts from around the state. You should be somewhat comfortable talking to 9-10 year olds, but we will provide a complete curriculum and "spiel" for you to use -- including recommended skits, props, overheads, and videos. If you are interested in teaching in Vermont schools, please apply below! A full one-day training is required, and we expect that you will likely teach in 2-3 schools in your area each school year. A small stipend is available to defray expenses for each school at which you teach.
A bicycle safety fair (aka bicycle rodeo) simulates real-life traffic conditions, to teach children the skills they need for safe bicycling in their neighborhood or to go to school. A well-designed safety fair is more than just a "ride around the cones" exercise. Most bicycle safety fairs also distribute low-cost helmets -- but a helmet alone is not what makes for a safe child bicyclist!
Hosting a bicycle safety fair: If you are interested in hosting a bicycle safety fair in your community, we recommend that you take our training -- and /or team up with someone who is already trained. In 2003 and 2005, Vermont SAFE KIDS and the VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition trained over 60 police officers, teachers, school nurses, scout master, and community service volunteers from around the state. Please use this list of individuals trained in Bicycle Safety Fairs to contact someone near you who may be able to help. As a host organization, you will need to provide a number of local volunteers, as well as organizing assistance for this morning or day event. At this time, we do not have a large corps of volunteers or staff to assist.
Prop kits available: Vermont SAFE KIDS and the VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition have assembled several prop kits that are available for check-out in 8 locations around the state. Here is more information on the prop kits and how to reserve them.
Low Cost Helmets: Vermont SAFE KIDS sells low-cost, certified helmets for $8.50 each, with a minimum order size of one dozen (12) helmets. Here is the order form (PDF 95k). Please allow 3 weeks for delivery. Helmets may also be available in your community by partnering with your local hospital, doctors' office, etc. We recommend that you ask parents for a voluntary donation to cover the cost of the helmets, to encourage families to contribute as they can afford. Remember that things that are free are sometimes equated with worthless. We want helmets to be valued -- as are the heads they protect.
Safety Fair Handouts: By popular request! You can order (at cost) printed color handouts for your safety fair or other bike safety event from the VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition. Includes basics of: helmets, clothing, bike safety check, rules of the road. Please use this order form and allow 10 days for delivery. You may also want to hand out fun activity sheets such as coloring handouts or bicycle-related crossword puzzles. Those are available to photocopy in the prop kit handbook.
Other resources: If you are planning to put on a bicycle safety fair, we at minimum recommend that you use an established curriculum, such as the Guide to Bicycle Rodeos, available from Outdoor Empire Publishing. The Vermont addendum to this guide provides some Vermont-specific recommendations & resources:
Teaching at a Bicycle Safety Fair in Vermont (core pages only) - PDF (1.2 MB)(Note: The hard copy of this guide includes additional pages these have recently been scanned, and we still need to connect them to the website. Coming by Spring 2006!)
Safety Fair Training. If you'd like to take our training yourself, please email email@example.com with your name & address, and we'll let you know when it's next offered. This training is designed for police officers, teachers, parents, school nurses, scout leaders, service organization volunteers, etc., to teach you how to put on your own, well-designed bicycle safety fair. Hands-on learning, instead of picking up our safety fair kit and having to read, squint at the diagrams, and figure it out for yourself. We'll walk you through it, as well as give you the foundation to know why each part of the safety fair is important.
Vanished: the morning traffic jam next to CP Smith Elementary School in Burlington. Instead, more kids and their parents are walking to school, especially on "Walking Wednesdays" when the school supports "walking school buses" coming in from the surrounding neighborhoods. In Chittenden County, a pilot Safe Routes to School program also has kids in Richmond and Hinesburg walking & biking to school.
On the other side of the state, Norwich and Bradford have been organizing Bike to School Days -- meeting with wild success. 180 kids biked to school in Norwich in September 2005. (Photo: Bike to school in Bradford, VT - 2005.)
School districts and parents are catching onto this great way to build physical activity into kids' daily lives while seriously reducing school-side traffic jams.
For reference only:
VTrans was seeking up to 30 schools to participate in this program! Applications were due May 5 -- and a letter of support is needed from both the school and the municipality!
Here's a quick summary of the program as we understand it (for reference only):
2006 - Application for program focusing on education, encouragement, enforcement efforts. Schools will receive up to $1500 toward educational & encouragement materials -- plus technical & organizing assistance in creating a school transportation plan, completing parent surveys, organizing walking school buses & bike trains, teaching kids & parents about bicycling & walking safely, route selection, event planning, punch-card encouragement programs, and more. Schools & communities interested in the construction fund program are strongly encouraged to participate in this education & encouragement program, as only schools that participate in education and encouragement activities to get more students walking & bicycling will be eligible for the construction round next spring. No local match is needed.
2007 - Application for construction funds will be available for projects within 2 miles of a school that will make it possible for kids to walk & bike to school will be accepted by VTrans in winter/spring 2007. If you want to apply for these funds, you are strongly encouraged to participate in the education & encouragement program. No local match will be needed.
Want to share tips, tricks, and resources for bicycle safety education with others from around the state? Join our Bicycle Safety Educators' listserve for an easy connection. As of Spring 2006, this listserve mostly includes announcements from VT Bike Ped. In the future, we plan to post one "starter" topic of conversation per month, and see what other sharing evolves. Join the Network. Email the moderator - Bob Atchinson - with your suggested "topic or question of the month"!
Vermont has a number of nationally-certified instructors through the League of American Bicyclists. These instructors, known as League Cycling Instructors (LCIs), are available to teach adult bicycle classes (such as how to ride in traffic), and may be available for other instruction as well. If you are interested in scheduling a "Road 1 class" for adults, ask an instructor near you.
At this time, we do not have plans to offer additional LCI trainings in the next year. However, if you are interested, please contact Nancy Schulz, and we will put you on the list for the future! Our sister organization in Massachusetts, MassBike, has been offering the trainings, and we were able to send a few students in 2005 and 2006.