When the snow melts and warmer weather arrives, many of Alaska’s kids are anxious to get outside on their bikes. And many of Alaska’s physical education teachers are anxious to give those kids a refresher course in bike safety.
But some kids can’t get their bikes to school easily, some don’t own a helmet, and the bikes they bring often have mechanical issues that delay learning and safety skills practice while teachers help students get their bikes in working order.
Now, a cooperative effort between the Alaska Injury Prevention Center, the Anchorage School District, and the state Department of Transportation’s Alaska’s Safe Routes to School Program is providing an all-inclusive bike safety class-in-a-trailer that includes well-maintained bikes, helmets, and a curriculum.
Health and physical education teachers can reserve the trailer through an online request system and have it delivered directly to their school. White Spruce Trailers in Anchorage outfitted the 20-foot trailer with the hooks and storage for the bike fleet and helmets, and a supply cabinet filled with cones and signs for setting up a bike skills course along with the tools needed for simple maintenance and upkeep of the bikes.
The bikes are Bike Friday’s OSATA bikes and are capable of adjusting to fit riders from 4’0” to 6’2” and up to 200 pounds. They are made in Eugene, Ore. of Made in America steel — a rarity for children’s bikes.
The curriculum includes classroom and on-the-bike instruction taught using the Bikeology curriculum, designed by ShapeAmerica (Society of Health and Physical Educators) with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Bikeology is tailored for students in grades 6-12 and meets national standards for K-12 physical education.
“We are excited to work with our community partners to enhance our current programs by finding innovative ways to engage our students,” said Melanie Sutton, the Health and Physical Education Coordinator for the Anchorage School District. “This program allows us to increase our ability to provide an equal playing field for students to learn about the benefits gained from being physically active as well as the skills and knowledge to incorporate safe, satisfying physical activity into their lives.”