Not a horse was in sight at the rodeo hosted at Thornton Elementary School on May 15. Instead, students rode bikes and learned about bike and pedestrian safety.
Students learned safety tips such as stranger danger, crosswalk awareness, rules of the road and hand signals during the bike rodeo. The event was made possible through a Safe Routes to School grant and support from Bicycle Colorado. Students were also educated about the health and environmental benefits of walking and biking.
“The district has received the Safe Route to School grant since 2009, and each year about four elementary schools have participated in the program and the bike rodeo,” said Kaitlin Wasik, wellness coordinator for the district. “People from Bicycle Colorado teach kids about safety, and it’s really cool because they set up a mock cross walk to teach kids how to stop at the crosswalk and use hand signals.”
The bike rodeo program was the culmination of the school’s “Walkin’ and Wheelin’ Week,” which encourages students to walk or ride to school. Each student who either rode a bike to school or walked received a raffle ticket. Then at the end of the week, raffle tickets were drawn and prizes were given. Brian Gerwig with Bicycle Colorado said the raffle-ticket system really gets the students excited about walking or riding to school, and gets them engaged in physical activity.
“We had about 20 bikes the first day which is great for this school because most of the kids are either dropped off at school or bussed to school,” he said. “Using the raffle tickets is a great way to get these kids active and is also a good time to teach them bike and pedestrian safety tips.”
Through grants from the Colorado Department of Transportation, Gerwig said, Bicycle Colorado was also able to donate helmets to all the students at Thornton Elementary.
“These grants from the CDOT show that the department has a vested interest in making it safer to commute on a bike,” he said. “With helmets being so important, it’s great to be able to provide them to kids who may not have a helmet.”
Bicycle Colorado also visited Mountain View Elementary and Skyview Elementary.