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Bike safety classes for middle school students start June 8

Original post made on May 30, 2019

Wheel Kids Bicycle Club is hosting a series of classes to teach bike safety to middle school students on Saturday, June 8, Saturday, June 22, and Sunday, July 28.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 30, 2019, 5:28 PM

Comments (8)

6 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 30, 2019 at 7:54 pm

$110 for bike safety classes for middle graders. You must be joking. This is something that should be provided throughout the school year at the schools with safety officer involvement and paid by school, police, chp and sheriff taxes.$110 what a joke. How do they expect families in Bell Haven, EPA and Fair Oaks to pay for this. Heck three kids is $330.
And one class ain't gonna cut it. Disgraceful.

4 people like this
Posted by Ride with traffic
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2019 at 9:44 pm

Hey middle-schoolers: walk against motor vehicle traffic but bike with that traffic. Otherwise, motorized vehicles turning onto your roadway will not look for you and you could well end of crippled or dead. Don't forget to use night-lights. Course over. Send your $110 to your favorite opponent of Donald Trump.

8 people like this
Posted by cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 30, 2019 at 10:28 pm

Bike safety and lawful cycling should be part of the school curriculum and free.
Most cyclists have no concept about the fact they are operating, in fact, a vehicle and not a toy.

We are teaching life (-saving) skills to our kids...NOT.

Like this comment
Posted by SandyB
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 31, 2019 at 12:17 pm

SandyB is a registered user.

Why are we charging for safety skills? And while we are designing a course - let's teach motorists the meaning of the bike lane markings. Many cars have been using the solid green block as a right turn lane.

5 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 31, 2019 at 12:49 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

Okay, a few comments here:

There are remarkably few adults–in the schools, in the police dept, etc.–who are truly skilled cyclists/trainers of cyclists. We learned this in several attempts at large-scale bike trainings at Hillview, which were led by a combination of parents, community volunteers, and MPPD. Well-meaning attempts that fall short on the skill and accuracy fronts are non productive. Might even be counter-productive.

To truly train kids well, you need to take them out on the streets for practice, which is what WheelKids will do. This has implications for liability and for student:teacher ratios. This, in turn, has cost and time implications. Knowing the high quality of the WheelKids program and staff (who trained my son every summer throughout elementary school), I find this pricing to be remarkably fair. And having watched literally 95% of middle school kids on bikes blow through all the stop signs in downtown Menlo Park last week after school, I'd say we have a lot of work to do. I hope that some parents, especially those who don't themselves bike places, and who haven't invested years of time into training their kids to ride safely, take up this opportunity. We live in a place where people routinely pay $20 for breakfast. I have no doubt that there are plenty who can afford it.

That said–yeah, it's a drop in the bucket, a fractional step toward a comprehensive solution that works for a majority of families.

I can make a strong case for why cycling training/road safety should be ongoing parts of every public school curriculum (likewise swimming and driver's ed). Palo Alto is doing a decent job of this. Check out Palo Alto's Safe Routes to School program, which includes dedicated city staff, a monthly stakeholder meeting, training throughout elementary school, police-supervised and city-funded crossing guards, a determent program for kids caught breaking the law, etc. We are in the very early stages of seeing what we might accomplish in Menlo Park with a similar approach.

Just know that it won't be free. It will cost the city money; it will cost the schools money; it will also probably displace other things that you might also want the schools to be doing with your kids. I think this is a worthwhile investment, because kids who learn to bike properly and develop a more nuanced understanding of the road ecosystem will probably be better, safer drivers.

If you agree, feel free to advocate for this with Menlo Park city council.

5 people like this
Posted by Jen Wolosin
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on May 31, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Jen Wolosin is a registered user.

Thanks to The Almanac for posting about this class and to Wheel Kids for working hard to put together this Menlo Park-specific program. It is just one of many pieces that our community needs to be investing in to make Safe Routes a reality.

The one-day class is extensive and covers important topics including the "door zone", where to position your bike when turning at various types of intersections, how to handle different green markings, and more. Ideally this class would be available to all kids, free of charge, but this is a start.

I also want to thank the MPPD who have offered to ask police officers donate their time to accompany kids whose parents are not available to take the class with them.

For those of you who are concerned about the cost and equity, please check out the Spanish language flyer for the class which states that financial assistance is available.

Web Link

14 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 31, 2019 at 1:59 pm

This formal bike training program sounds like a very good idea and I hope it is well attended. If participating parents feel it is worthwhile, the city and parents can figure out how to subsidize the cost in the future, especially for families that cannot afford it. I think most families in our city will view this as a great investment.

Like this comment
Posted by Bike Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 1, 2019 at 5:17 pm

Bike Menlo Park is a registered user.

Our schools deserve credit for all they are currently doing to promote bicycle safety, even if it's not to the extent of the Wheel Kids course. This past year, Hillview 6th graders had a two-day bike skills clinic that was taught by Y Bike, a branch of the YMCA. Of course, skills development comes from repeated reinforcement over the years. Ideally, the kids would get regular training before they get to middle school so that they develop good habits from the get-go.

Our schools (and based on what I know, the majority of schools in the U.S.) are not set up to provide hands-on bicycle skills and safety training. I'm not sure what driver's ed is like these days, but in my time, parents were expected to provide the vehicles and help their kids get the actual hours they needed. It is possible for schools to take on the entire responsibility for bicycle ed, but as others have said, it requires a substantial commitment of resources and a different mindset.

Finally, for inspiration, here is a short video about "Bicycle Training in the Netherlands," which includes an actual test on local roads. (Turning on closed captions may be helpful.)

Web Link

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