Thursday, April 18, 2024

Hundreds of students in NCESD Region receive free bikes through statewide bike ed program

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MANSON – Last week, 33 Manson 5th graders received free bikes as part of a statewide initiative to teach bike skills to elementary and middle school students.

“Some of these students live pretty close to school” said Jay Fox, PE Teacher at Manson Elementary.  “I bet we see a few of them will start biking to school now.  We’ll probably need to get a bigger bike rack.”

The initiative is the largest bike education effort in Washington State history. The first bike giveaway was celebrated at Orondo School District’s community luncheon on Friday, March 15, 2024. During the event, 19 students received bicycles to take home.

Taught in Seattle Public Schools since 2016, the Let's Go Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety program launched its first year of expansion across Washington state in 2024. The 3-week bicycle curriculum is delivered during PE class for students in grades 3-8, and teaches the skills to become more confident bicyclists. 

“Remember the feeling of joy and freedom when you first learned to ride a bike?” said Ian Woodford, Statewide Bike Education Project Manager. “If so, you know why youth bike education matters. If you never had that opportunity, that is what this program seeks to change for Washington’s youth.”

Orondo 5th grader Alex Villa-Gomez earned his first bicycle through the program. His mother Maria Gomez was appreciative of the program.

“I just hope this program continues growing,” Maria Gomez said. “It shows kids how to ride a bike, it helps them get exercise, and it helps them feel free. I didn’t have the opportunity to have one when I was a kid, or get my son one, so that brings a good feeling to me.”

Through the program bikes have also been delivered to Mansfield School District, and East Omak Elementary.

Entiat School District, Soap Lake Elementary, Palisades Elementary, and Waterville School District are the schools in the region scheduled to participate in the program next year.

“In these early years we’re prioritizing schools based on socio-economic status, racial demographics, and areas that are low-resourced,” said Stephen Rowley, Education Director at Cascade Bicycle Club. “But eventually, this program will reach 9 out of 10 Washington state students.”

By 2039, this program will be available at no cost to nearly all Washington elementary and middle schools.

The statewide bike program exists due to many years of hard work by Cascade Bicycle Club, ensuring funding for this important program (officially named the School-Based Bicycle Safety Education Program) would be included in the Move Ahead Washington transportation bill. 

They have tasked the network of nine Educational Service Districts (ESDs), known collectively as the Association of Educational Service Districts (AESD), to deliver the program and bike equipment to hundreds of Washington’s smallest school districts. 

This represents about half of eligible students statewide. The state’s 25 largest school districts will receive direct funding for staff and equipment to serve the remaining half, until 90% of Washington state students are being served annually. 

During this pilot year, two ESDs have been tasked with serving 15 elementary schools, Between North Central ESD 171 (based in Wenatchee) and Northwest ESD 189 (based in Anacortes), more than 700 bicycles will be given to all 5th graders who participated in the program at these schools. More than 25 students will receive adaptive tricycles.

About the School-Based Bicycle Safety Education Program

The Statewide School-Based Bicycle Safety Education Program, created as part of Move Ahead Washington legislation, includes two programs: One for elementary and middle school students (grades 3-8) to be implemented in school physical education classes, and another for middle and high school youth (grades 6-12) to be implemented out of school or after school. The purpose is “to develop students’ skills and street safety knowledge to be more confident bicyclists for transportation and/or recreation.”

The School-Based Bicycle Safety Education Program is supported with funding from Washington’s Climate Commitment Act. The CCA supports Washington’s climate action efforts by putting cap-and-invest dollars to work reducing climate pollution, creating jobs, and improving public health. Information about the CCA is available at climate.wa.gov.

 

About Cascade Bicycle Club

Cascade Bicycle Club, the nation’s largest statewide bicycling nonprofit, serves bike riders of all ages, races, genders, income levels, and abilities throughout the state of Washington. We teach the joys of bicycling, advocate for safe places to ride, and produce world-class rides and events. Our signature programs include the Seattle to Portland, Free Group Rides, the Pedaling Relief Project, Your Streets Your Say advocacy training, the Bike Walk Roll Summit, Let's Go, and the Major Taylor Project. Cascade currently serves almost 10,000 members, has 30 professional staff, and 700 volunteers. 

 

About North Central Educational Service District

The North Central Educational Service District (NCESD) is a resource to the 29 districts within the four-county service area, providing professional and timely tools to meet the needs of individual schools and districts, and a reliable point of education-related information for the communities served. The NCESD is a respected resource to other ESDs throughout Washington State. 

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