Come On – Ride the Train!

 

Two  bicycle enthusiasts who attend Laurelhurst Elementary School.

 

During the month of October SDOT is celebrating Walk to School Month and Safe Routes to School with tips on how to get to school and back safely and without a car! Today we are focusing on bike trains. I mean, who doesn’t love a train right? Bike trains offer a safe, fun way to ride as a group. It is a little more involved than a walking bus because equipment is needed and kids may have to ride on the road. This being the case, bike trains may be better suited for older elementary children. More adult supervision is also recommended. On average there should be one adult for every three to six children. It is good to have an adult ‘engineer’ and an adult ‘caboose.’

Before starting, make sure children have practiced and trained on how to handle a bicycle and know the rules of the road. Adults can read about regulations for bicycling on SDOT web site. Our large bike maps also have catchy graphics and brief descriptions explaining how to be safe. To order one call the Bike Alliance of Washington at (206) 224-9252, or use the online form.  A couple of important things to teach your children are the proper hand signals to use when turning or stopping; always yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians (especially important if you are riding on the sidewalk); and making sure their bicycles have a lamp on the front emitting a white light and a red reflector on the seat if riding occurs during the hours of darkness.

Once everybody has the rules down and the route is planned you are ready to go. Make sure all riders are wearing bicycle helmets and that they fit correctly.  When worn the right way a helmet can prevent about 85 percent of head injuries from bike crashes. Watch Seattle Children’s video on how to make sure the helmet fits. And remember, helmets are good for only one crash. Always replace the helmet after a crash.  

Need inspiration? Watch a video of Bryant Elementary hosting an amazing Bike to School Day with 180 participants. Happy rolling and be super safe

P.S. In case you didn’t know, SDOT is offering Safe Routes to School Mini Grants to schools and PTAs that want to launch their own walk and bike to school campaigns.  Mini grants can provide up to $1,000 for school projects that educate students about pedestrian and bicycle safety and encourage walking and biking to school.  Applications are due Friday, November 2, 2012.