Tag Archives: Safe Routes to School

On this Bike Pic Friday, yeah its Friday celebrating day-26 of 30-days of biking, while riding your bike on a daily commute or to run errands.

Tips and tricks to make riding to school fun, and safe

by John Brown

All around the country, bike paths are being built, and designated bike lanes are being established. So, riding to school can be an easy and safe option with all the colorful fall weather ahead. Many of these paths are routed from neighborhoods to nearby schools to get more kids energized by riding. To encourage your kids to ride their bikes to school safely. Please look at our helpful tips below, especially if your home is far from a connecting trail or a designated bike lane that leads to school.

Riding to school safely begins with a helmet

First and foremost, a well-fitting helmet reduces the risk of serious injury by half. As a result, helmets are the most critical piece of cycling gear for kids. Sadly, many bicyclists under 14 are not riding with a helmet that fits properly. For example, a well-fitting helmet will be snug on the rider’s head. When fitted correctly, the strap toggles should be about a ½ inch below the ear lobe, with the chin strap tight enough to hold the helmet on your head but not so tight it chokes you. Important to realize is that helmets lose effectiveness over time, so review their production date. Therefore, consult the manufacturers’ recommendations for when to replace your existing helmet.

Why is riding to school good?

There are tons of organizations that encourage children to exercise. Child obesity is a real issue in the US, and any activity goes a long way to help. Studies have shown that activity before school increases attention span, boosts mood, and improves fitness and BMI. And it only took one ride to start to see those results! Based on these results, Specialized Bicycles has invested substantial resources in developing programs for kids with ADHD to substitute exercise for medication with excellent results. Overall, the quick trips riding to school help kids kickstart their metabolism, gain focus, and learn valuable skills.

Bike Maintenance and safely

Be sure that your child is comfortable on their bicycle and that it is sized adequately. Bikes that are too small or too large are difficult for children to control. If you have concerns about the fit, visit your local bike shop to have the bike adjusted. The teach them the ABC’s of a bicycle. So they can verify that the brakes work, tires are inflated, and tight controls. Ensure your child can squeeze the brake levers easily and stop the bike.

Children’s bikes sold must have reflectors on the bars, seat posts, wheels, and pedals. Those reflectors should be considered the most basic level of visibility. Add to that visibility by having your kids wear brightly colored clothes and installing lights and a flag on the bike. However, young children should try to avoid riding at night or twilight.

Riding skills

Teaching basic skills can be fun and easy. Find a flat section of low grass (like a high school football field) and have them practice riding with one hand off the bar. Use the Board Trick to learn how to handle riding over obstacles. For many, the trail to school might be a short distance from your house, and your child may have to add a city street to the route. When riding a bicycle on a street, they must follow the Rules of the road as if they were driving a car. This link from the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota will help you teach your kids the basics of signaling turns and navigating on roads.

Riding to the right is the most basic ride rule on sidewalks and bike paths. More important than that rule is the courtesy of riding around others. Being courteous is the best way to make sure everyone has fun. It is tempting for kids to try and bring a phone or iPod on a ride with them. Those distractions are a detriment to your child’s safety. Keep your digital toys in a backpack or, better yet, at home.

 Figuring out the course

For your kids to be comfortable riding to school, they must be familiar and comfortable with the route. An easy way to practice the course is on the weekends. Weekends are free from school traffic and give plenty of time to explore alternate routes. Look for clear roads and intersections with lighted crosswalks. Even if the course is not the most direct, your child can feel comfortable if it is safe and clear. Also, try to avoid large hills (either up or down) so as not to exhaust your kids.

Locking the bike during class

With the route and skills covered, let’s talk about how to keep the bike safe during the school day. The easiest way to protect a bicycle is to lock it up properly. I recommend you lock the bicycle to a designated bike rack outside the school. In damp weather, periodically lubricating the lock mechanism will make it easy to use year-round.

Late in the fall, ensure the bike and lock are lubed to protect from rain or snow.

Putting it all together

After teaching your kids how to ride, equipping them, and working to create a safe course, continue reinforcing all those things throughout the school year. Evaluate their equipment frequently to ensure it’s working correctly. Additionally, ride with them to strengthen their signaling and to ride safely. Finally, be aware of traffic patterns as the year progresses. Above all else, make riding to school fun. Your kids will appreciate it.

About John Brown, the author

As a lifelong cyclist and consummate tinkerer, John operates Browns Bicycle in Richfield, MN. It all started for him in grade school when the bike bug bit him, and that particular fever is still there. Now, and over the past thirty years, he has worked at every level in the bike industry. He was starting by sweeping the shop floor while learning anything he could about bikes. He eventually graduated as a service manager and then a store manager. Through the years, he has spent extensive time designing and sourcing bicycles and parts for some of the largest bike companies in the world. All the while focusing on helping as many people as possible enjoy the love of riding a bike. In that pursuit, he has taught classes (both scheduled and impromptu) on all things bikes. John also believes in helping every rider attain their optimal fit on the bike of their dreams. Please feel free to stop in any time and talk about bikes, fit, and parts or share your latest ride. You can also see more of John’s tricks and tips on the Brown Bicycle Facebook Page.
Celebrating the city's bike-friendly a ride was organized to tour New Ulm's accomplishments.

Congratulations New Ulm, One of the Latest Bronze Bike Friendly Communities in the U.S.

New Ulm achieved honorable mention bike status designation in 2016. Last week it was announced they are the 21st Minnesota community to earn the bike friendly honor, with bronze. Provided by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), to celebrate the honors local residence and dignitaries convened in Harman Park, this last Saturday for a bike ride marking the occasion.

Cindy Winters from Hearts Beat Back Project is shown here presenting the LAB Bicycle Friendly Community plaque to New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman.

Cindy Winters from Hearts Beat Back Project is shown here presenting the LAB Bicycle Friendly Community plaque to New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman.

A Proud Accomplishment For Everyone In New Ulm

“This is a huge accomplishment that everyone in the entire community should be very proud of,” said Cindy Winters, manager for Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project, which collaborated with The New Ulm Bike Club and the City of New Ulm to submit the application. “Over the last several years, individuals and organizations throughout our community have worked very hard to help implement changes that make it safer and more enjoyable for everyone to bike,” Winters said.

Enjoying the 13-mile paved bike traile loop around the city of New Ulm

Enjoying the 13-mile paved bike trail loop around the city of New Ulm

A Bicycle Friendly Community welcomes bicyclists by providing safe accommodations for bicycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. Making bicycling safe and convenient are keys to improving public health, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and improving quality of life.

Dorian Grilley, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) will present the designation to the New Ulm City Council, at its May 16 meeting. Grilley said, “I am very pleased to see the work of the City, schools and The Heart of New Ulm Project be rewarded with a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community award. BikeMN looks forward to continuing our support of their efforts to make bicycling and walking an easy, safe and fun choice for all.”

Click here for a complete list of Bike Friendly LAB Communities in Minnesota

More information on the Bicycle Friendly Community program is available on the League of American Bicyclists website at: http://bikeleague.org/community.

To find out more about the city and county bike maps of New Ulm, click here.

Bike Pic Dec, 20, bike rodeo fun!

Here, this young lady shows off here new bike after finishing a bike rodeo at her school in Albert Lea, MN, this last summer.

Thanks for viewing the Bike Pic of the Day here at HaveFunBiking (HFB). 

Now, rolling into our 10th year as a bicycle media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike, while showcasing unforgettable places to ride. As we search and present more fun photos worth a grin, scroll through the information and stories we have posted to help you find your next adventure. Then, while out there if you see us along a paved or mountain bike trail, next to the route you regularly commute on, or at an event you plan to attend with your bike, be prepared to smile. You never know where our camera’s will be and what we will post next!

Do you have a fun photo of yourself or someone you know that you would like to see us publish? If so, please send it our way and we may use it. Send your picture(s) to [email protected] with a brief caption (of each), including who is in the photo (if you know?) and where it was taken. Photo(s) should be at least 620 pixels wide for us to use them. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and an acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As HaveFunBiking continues to encourage more people to ride, please reference our blog and the annual print and quarterly digital Bike/Hike Guide to find your next adventure. We are proud of the updated – At-a-Glance information and maps we are known for in the HFB Destination section on our website and in the guide. Now, as the Bike/Hike Guide goes into its seventh year of production, we are adding a whole new dimension of bicycle tourism information available for mobile devices where you may see some additional bike pics – maybe of yourself so.

Bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure – we may capture you in one of the next photos we post.

Have a great day!


Safe Routes to School Works, How About Your Community?

by Margo Pedroso

It’s Official: Safe Routes to School is Proven to Work.

HFB-2 - CopyJust in time for International Walk to School Day, a new study has been published in the Journal of the American Planning Association that confirms what those of us in the field have long known:  Safe Routes to School programs are effective at increasing rates of walking and bicycling to and from school.

The new study is the most comprehensive Safe Routes to School evaluation to date – it looked at school travel data from 801 schools in DC, Florida, Oregon and Texas collected between 2007 and 2012.  A total of 378 schools implemented Safe Routes to School programs of some kind during the study period—meaning that the researchers could look at before and after data—and 423 schools did not implement a Safe Routes to School program and could thus serve as control schools to compare against.

The findings are quite impressive:
* After an engineering improvement was completed, schools saw an 18 percent increase in walking and bicycling rates.
* Each year of Safe Routes to School education and encouragement programming resulted in a five percent increase in walking and bicycling rates—adding up to 25 percent after five years.
* These results could be cumulative – so a school that implements a comprehensive Safe Routes to School initiative with engineering improvements plus five years of education and encouragement would result in a 43 percent increase in walking and bicycling rates.

Screen%20Shot%202014-10-29%20at%2011_39_45%20AMThis study builds on the work of many other researchers who have looked at individual models or results on a smaller group of studies, and it really is the missing link in clearly demonstrating the effectiveness of Safe Routes to School. There are a number of ways in which this study provides definitive findings that are helpful to practitioners:
* Because it covers such a large number of schools in multiple states, it shows that Safe Routes to School programs generally are effective, regardless of specific variations in how the programs are set up.
* It includes control schools—allowing the researchers to show that the increases in walking and bicycling were a result of the Safe Routes to School initiatives, regardless of environmental or demographic differences among schools.
* Because the researchers looked at both engineering improvements and programming over time, they were able to show that comprehensive Safe Routes to School programs that are sustained over time have an ever-increasing impact on rates of walking and bicycling to and from school.
* Due to the number of schools, the researchers were able to examine variables such as the income level and ethnic or racial makeup of participating schools, and found no difference in the results – showing that Safe Routes to School can be equally effective for a wide variety of schools and families.

When combined with a study from last year showing that Safe Routes to School initiatives reduced pedestrian injury by 44 percent, we can now definitely say that Safe Routes to School is improving safety for children, and getting more children walking and bicycling to and from school.

And, that is great news to cap off another successful Walk to School month!  Please also join me in giving a big thank you to the researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Florida, Texas A&M, Howard University and University of Oregon that collaborated together to complete this impressive study.

More Safe Routes to School information from Margo Pedroso’s Blog.