Thanks to William Francis, BTA Bike and Pedestrian Safety Educator, for this guest article.
(February 5, 2016) The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) teaches Bike and Pedestrian Safety Education to roughly 5,000 Portland school children each year though a contract with the Portland Bureau of Transportation Safe Routes to School program. These students learn the keys to safe walking and biking as a fundamental part of their academic curriculum.
Many of these children are from Title IA schools. Title IA schools receive additional federal funding for serving a significant number of students facing risk factors such as poverty and unstable housing. The BTA teaches Bike and Pedestrian Safety Education in 21 out of the 24 Portland Public Schools that fit this classification.
A high number of students at these schools do not have access to bicycles, and live in neighborhoods where there are limited sidewalks and signage. Bike and Pedestrian Safety Education is an essential component of keeping these students and their families' safe as they travel to and from their local schools.
Teachers and administrators agree these programs are important. Fifth grade teacher from Marysville School, Kelly Joy says "[Bike safety] is a skill they will take with them for a lifetime. I saw such a sense of confidence develop once they learned the rules of the road." Fifth grade Spanish immersion teacher at Rigler School, Risa Nabielski adds, "Bike safety is such a fun and meaningful activity for our students. For some, it is their first time on a bike; they are the ones that really benefit!"
Safe Routes to School and the BTA are always looking for volunteers to assist on school community rides and other efforts. It can be difficult to find enough parent volunteers, at these schools in particular, who are available during school hours due to a variety of challenges. If you are interested in volunteering with these programs, or know of a Title IA school that would like to participate, please contact William Francis at William@btaoregon.org.