In preparation for Bike Month, scheduled annually in May, two local bike groups are once again joining forces with the South Bend Community School Corporation and the City of South Bend Police Department in conducting bike safety training in area elementary schools. Bike Michiana Coalition and Michiana Bicycle Association fund the program for 3rd grade students and teach the rules of the road, directional hand signals, appropriate clothing that promotes visibility to motorists, pre-ride bike operation check lists, and proper helmet fit and use. The 1 hour class is led by Judy Lee, longtime bike advocate, and other avid bicyclists who volunteer their time to assist. Lee, South Bend Police Officer James Burns, and the other police officer involved in the program, all have national certification as bike safety instructors.
Now in its 5th year of operation, school-based classes have already been held at Tarkington Primary Center. For the second year in a row, a training also took place on April 8 at the Center for the Homeless for the adult population there whom often rely on their own bikes or a bike sharing program at the Center for transportation. McKinley and Muessel Primary Centers and Kennedy Academy are also planning on participating in the program over the next several weeks. McKinley School is scheduled for this coming Monday, April 15 from 1-2 p.m., and Kennedy Academy scheduled for Thursday, April 25. Each participating school receives complimentary new helmets for each 3rd grade student as part of the program. Several of the schools are also provided additional helmets to compliment bicycle give-away programs that serve as an incentive for reading, citizenship, math performance, or perfect attendance initiatives within the entire school population. McKinley and Muessel are area schools that offer incentive programs.
A main emphasis of the program is the use of a proper fitting helmet for all ages, at all times when riding a bike. Nearly 70% of all bicycle injuries involve children, resulting annually in approximately 600,000 ER visits, 17,000 hospitalizations and 1200 deaths. With education, bicycle related injuries and death can be avoided, or at least minimized.
Both bicycling advocacy groups encourage students and adults throughout our community to connect up to other safe biking activities during Bike Month, including Michiana Bike to Work & School Week which is scheduled for May 13-19, and Bike the Bend, Sunday, May 19. For more information on these upcoming events, please visit www.michianabiketowork.org or www.bikethebend.com. Area SBCSC school principals are encouraged to contact either Judy Lee (586-3472) or Jo M. Broden (289-0401) to arrange for a bike safety class yet this year or to schedule for 2014.