Bike fleet provides new opportunities for District
Bike fleet provides new opportunities for District 197
Posted on 09/21/2018

kids on bikes pictureStudents in District 197 will soon be learning how to ride bikes safely thanks to a $36,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and a $5,500 grant from Action for Healthy Kids. Funding from these two organizations will allow the district to purchase it own fleet of bikes, a storage trailer and bike racks as well as implement bike safety trainings.

The fleet, comprised of around 40 bikes, will be shared among the elementary and middle schools, giving students in grades 3-8 an opportunity, during physical education classes and in School Age Care (SAC), to explore the mechanics of biking, get exercise and learn how to do so safely. It will also include an adaptable bike to provide more inclusive student participation.

A few teachers and staff in the district have already adopted biking as part of their programing. In recent years, physical education classes at Mendota Elementary School have had a bike unit within their curriculum. Even for the district’s SAC middle school summer program, biking has been a great option for keeping students active and engaged, but a lack of resources and access to bikes has made it challenging for all students to be able to participate.

“In the past, we’ve done bike trips around the community, but there have been kids who don’t have access to bikes,” said SAC Middle School Youth Program Instructional Assistant Amanda Shadoin. “Thankfully we’ve been able to rent a bike fleet from Bike MN so everybody could be involved, but I am very grateful we won’t have to worry about that barrier anymore.”

Providing students with more access to bikes also creates a need for increased bike safety. To ensure students are learning proper bike safety, a curriculum developed by the MN Bike Alliance called Walk! Bike! Fun! will be integrated into classrooms.

kid on bikeSimilar to the Walk! Bike! Fun! Ambassador training School Age Care staff received last year, students will learn traffic rules and regulations, the potential hazards of traveling, and handling skills needed to bike and walk safely through their community.

As part of necessary safety precautions, Children’s Hospital of Minnesota donated helmets, which will be worn by students while riding the bikes.

In addition to donating equipment, other community organizations, such as the West St. Paul Police Department, are working to educate students on the importance of bike safety.

“I learned that West St. Paul has a bike officer, and he actually came the first day of our summer program and rode with us to Moreland Elementary for lunch,” said Shadoin. “It’s a great way for kids to see that it’s serious business when you’re riding on the street and that the police are involved to help bridge that safety gap.”

It’s through community partnerships like these, that Amanda hopes to eventually to expand the bike fleet’s reach.  

“We’re going to start within the district to see how it goes and then we want to branch out,” said Shadoin. “We’d love to offer it in community education programs, youth enrichment, taking bike trips and even with adults–getting them out and being active. There are a lot of opportunities for the fleet.”

Mostly, Amanda is excited about increasing students’ learning with bikes.

“I’m ecstatic about this opportunity,” said Shadoin. “It’s something I’ve been teaching for the last three years in our summer program, and I’ve seen how kids get excited about being active and getting to ride their bikes, while feeling more independent. “ 

The fleet of bikes is expected to arrive in the summer of 2019 and will be used in classrooms next fall. 

MnDOT awards $108,000 in grants to support safer bicycling
Hands-on experience gives teachers leg up on bike safety
Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota
Action for Healthy Kids