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Making Riding One of the Basic Pillars of Education

What’s it going to take to get more children and youth on bikes? The first step is making bike education and bike encouragement more prominent and open to all in our communities and in our school systems. 

That’s why the League of American Bicyclists is working towards ensuring that all children and youth receive an on-bike education as part of in-school education. In-school on-bike education fills the gaps in opportunities for children and youth who don’t have access to a bike or reliable bike education resources at home and enables them to experience and learn about cycling in the easiest and most fun ways possible!

From hosting Learn to Ride classes and helmet fittings to getting a Safe Routes to School program implemented to starting a youth mountain biking club, there are a lot of ways for communities and schools to broaden youth bike education in and outside of school and create a strong bike culture that welcomes and celebrates bicycling. 

Here are just five ideas for communities and schools to broaden youth bike education: 

  1. Build a bike fleet and secure bike parking for local schools to facilitate offering on-bike education in-school or during before and after school programs.

  2. Ensure in-school bike education is open, equitable and accessible to all. This can include offering educational materials/courses in multiple languages, prioritizing funding towards Title 1 schools, or having a bike fleet that includes adaptive cycles. 

  3. Install traffic gardens. This low-cost community resource provides a protected area to allow kids to play on bikes and begin to learn how to safely and confidently navigate traffic and share the environment with other users.

  4. Provide up-to-date mapping and route-finding information like printed or digital Safe Routes to Schools maps. Additionally, make them easy to find by adding them to your city’s or school’s website.

  5. Make sure your school board or school district is represented on your community’s Bicycle Advisory Committee.

At the 2022 National Bike Summit, which featured sessions centered around bettering bicycling in your state, community, business or university now and into the future, the panel “Building Community Through Fun and Creative Youth Bike Education” highlighted bike education initiatives ranging from in-school bike education to extracurricular bike programs. Passionate bike educators shared their work towards building bike education and encouragement programs in their own communities and using the joy of bicycling to foster a community, get kids active, and cultivate the next generation of riders. 

There to lead the discussion of “Building Community Through Fun and Creative Youth Bike Education” was Sam Balto, physical education teacher for Portland Public Schools; Nicole Chandler, community school coordinator for the Little Rock School District; Danielle King, Safe Kids Thurston County coordinator; and Emi Kubota, founder and president of KidCycle Club

Watch the summit session recording of “Building Community Through Fun and Creative Youth Bike Education” below for more ideas on how to roll out a youth bike education or encouragement program in your community!