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LCI Corner: Embedding Bicycling in the Curriculum

In this LCI Corner, educator Robert O’Conner of South Windsor, Conn., shares how his community’s efforts are helping to create lifelong bicyclists from an early age, by integrating bicycle education into the public schools’ curriculum.

The Town of South Windsor, Conn., a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community, is taking a new approach to bicycle education — working to integrate bike safety instruction into the curriculum of its school system.

With an ultimate goal to inspire and inform lifelong bicyclists from youth, rather than convert or recruit adult riders later in life, South Windsor set out to include bicycle education in all five of its elementary schools.

School is the natural and best place to teach children how to be safe bicycle riders, and the curriculum was designed to include both classroom learning and road experience. With the help of the statewide organization Bike Walk CT, South Windsor starting by renting a fleet of bicycles and funding League Cycling Instructors to conduct classes, specifically for fourth grade students.

Through the work of South Windsor Walk & Wheel Ways, a plan was approved to help the town and Board of Education reduce the annual expense of the program. The town helped to fund the Park and Recreation Commission to purchase a fleet of 25 new bikes, and a trailer to transport them. A local retailer — Bike Shop of South Windsor — assisted in purchasing appropri ate bikes, as well as assembling them and providing tune-ups, and the Board of Education funded a free helmet for each student.

Physical Education teachers at the elementary schools quickly bought into the program and were certified to teach bike safety. They now run the program, and over the past two years, five additional people have been certified as LCIs, volunteering their time and expertise. Thanks to a true partnership of many town organizations, this new program is now a permanent part of our top-notch school system in South Windsor.


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