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Feature Story

August 2014


Resource Helps Teach Bicycle Safety

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A ready-to-use bicycle safety curriculum is available free of charge for physical education teachers and recreation specialists working with students in grades 6 to 12 from the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Aligned with the National Standards for Physical Education, the curriculum includes lessons and assessments for the skills and knowledge students need to enjoy a lifetime a safe bicycling.

"Teachers felt strongly that teaching safety to children needed to involve parents," said Vicki Miller and Heather Board, curriculum developers and League Cycling Instructors. "As part of the curriculum, we include a parent section with 12 individual tip sheets for teachers to selectively pull from to encourage parents to reinforce what their child had learned and how they can support safe bicycling. Teachers can choose the sheets that fit their needs and how they want to distribute them."

Further, some of the tips sheets can be used at other school events or as talking points whenever bicycle safety can be reinforced. A big emphasis point is for parents to be Roll Models when bicycling with their children or driving around bicyclists.

"Bike safety is so important," said Cindy Ferek, a past National High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year from Turner Ashby High School in Virginia and a participant in the pilot testing of the curriculum. "With the help of this curriculum, students are given the opportunity to learn to ride a bike in a safe, controlled and structured environment. We need to give them the skills needed to navigate the challenges out on the road, put them in similar situations to practice, and problem-solve ways to keep themselves safe.

"Many of the applied skills as a safe pedestrian and bicyclist are the same skills needed to be a safe driver," Ferek added. "Bicycle skills are important for safety and for students participating in drivers education. I would rather have a student make a physical or mental mistake on a 10-pound bike going 10 miles per hour than to make the same mistake in a 4,000-pound vehicle going 45 miles per hour. The result could be fatal. The consequences grow exponentially as speed, weight and momentum increase. As of this summer, all four high schools in the Rockingham School District have a fleet of mountain bikes. The students love it!"

Teaching this model curriculum enhances bicycle riding skills among youth. In so doing, these skills can reduce bicycle crashes due to rider behavior, increase physical fitness and promote bicycling as an active way to have fun and get around throughout a lifetime.

Learn more at www.shapeamerica.org.


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