Safe Routes to School offers a bicyclist education program for 4th and 5th grade students. Students receive both classroom lessons and on-bike lessons, using the district's bike fleet. Topics include the benefits of bicycling and physical activity, helmet use and fitting, bike handling, communication with other road users, and traffic awareness.
The full program is 330 minutes of classroom and on-bike lessons, but options are available for shorter and less expensive programs. Though the program has mostly worked with PE Specialists within the PE schedule, it can also work with classroom teachers to meet their PE minutes responsibilities, with an ideal lesson length being 55 minutes. The program is for 4th grade and up, with 5th grade being the target audience. Instructors are contracted by the day, so as many lessons and grade levels per day as may reasonably be scheduled is most efficient.
The bicyclist education program is available to core schools in the current ATP/Safe Routes to School grant (these are Cottage Elementary, Coyle Avenue Elementary, and Peck Elementary). It is available at reduced cost to non-core schools in the grant (these are Cowan Elementary, Mission Avenue Open Elementary, and Sierra Oaks K-8). Other schools wishing to provide the program must pay the full cost, which is primarily the expense of League Cycling Instructors, plus a small bike maintenance fee.
Bicyclist Education Curriculum
- Bicyclist Education introduction (pdf)
- Bicyclist Education helmet fitting (pdf)
- Bicyclist Education traffic awareness (pdf, no video)
- Kids Eye View (video; used in traffic awareness presentation; available by request)
- Classroom Lesson outline
- On-Bike Lesson outline brief
The bike fleet is owned by San Juan Unified School District and was purchased under a federal cycle 3 Safe Routes to School grant and additional funding.
- 32 widely adjustable bicycles (BikeFriday OSATA)
- 3 widely adjustable balance bikes (BikeFriday OSATA)
- 4 small balance bikes (Strider ST4 and SS1)
- 1 small pedal bike (IslaBike CNOC 16)
- 2 push scooters (Razor)
- program helmets to fit each student (students may wear their own helmet)
- schoolyard course elements: cones, tennis ball halves, stop signs, spray chalk
- maintenance tools and supplies
- trailer for hauling bike fleet
League Cycling Instructors
The San Juan Safe Routes to School Bicyclist Education Program is instructed exclusively by League Cycling Instructors (LCIs) trained in the nationally recognized League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling program. The Safe Routes to School Coordinator (Dan Allison) is a LCI, and the district contracts with individual LCIs to instruct the program. A pool of LCIs is shared with North Natomas TMA Project Ride Smart and other education programs in the Sacramento region.
LCIs are trained through:
- Traffic Skills 101, a nine-hour class with classroom, bike handling skills, and on-street experience
- League Cycling Instructor Seminar, a 23-hour plus homework class, focused on teaching techniques
- additional training in working with youth and schools, separately or on-the-job
With Traffic Skills 101 training, PE Specialists, PE teachers, and other school staff may offer the classroom portion of the program, and act as an additional instructor for on-bike lessons. With LCI training, they may act as a program lead and act as an additional instructor for on-street lessons. Program costs will be reduced significantly for schools with trained staff.
Traffic Skills 101 is offered about three times per year in the Sacramento region, while the League Cycling Instructor Seminar is offered about once per year. If there is sufficient interest, both Traffic Skills 101 and the LCI Seminar may be offered specifically for school staff. For information on future trainings, contact Safe Routes to School Coordinator Dan Allison, email@example.com.
The San Juan USD Safe Routes to School Bicyclist Education Program offers a street ride during the final lesson. The street ride is optional for a school, not required. However, as the culminating lesson of the program, it is very valuable since it provides the students with a practical experience of the skills and traffic awareness that they have learned in earlier on-bike lessons and classroom lessons. Our ultimate goal is that every student have the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to ride their bike to and from school when they are in sixth grade at middle school or K-8 school, though we recognize that some students will end up riding only in their neighborhoods or nearby parks.
The street ride lesson is supervised by League Cycling Instructors (LCIs) who have been trained to offer a nationally recognized curriculum that includes street rides, and have received additional training in working with youth and leading youth on street rides.
The street ride is only for fifth grade and up. The street ride is never offered for fourth grade. At least 240 minutes of instruction must occur before the street ride. The standard program design has about five on-bike lessons before the street ride.
There must be a safe location for the street ride. This does not exist at some schools, and in fact the Safe Routes to School overall program exists in part because some schools are in locations that un-bikeable for students of that age, and we want to change that. The street ride takes place on quiet residential streets, never on arterial or collector streets, or on any street with a speed limit over 25 mph. It may include, or even be limited to, pathways within parks. Since the skill and traffic awareness levels of the students will vary considerably, students are grouped by this criteria, with some students experiencing more challenging situations than others. For each school, a variety of on-street routes will be developed to match and challenge the skills of the students, without exposing them to experiences beyond their skill level.
In situations where there are a variety of streets types and/or park pathways available, our objective is to provide every student the experience. However, students must meet requirements including bike handling and scan-signal-scan-merge skills, behavior, and return of the contract, in order to attend. If a student does not go on the street ride, they will have a challenging but fun on-bike lesson on the schoolyard.
The street ride lessons are in small groups. The groups will not exceed eight students with one LCI, or twelve is there is either a second LCI or a trained adult volunteer available. If a school can recruit parent or community volunteers, they can assist with the street ride. However, they must be regular bicyclists (not necessarily street riders) and must be available for a 30 minute preparation lesson to be scheduled either on an earlier day or earlier on the street ride lesson day.
The street ride is a valuable experience for the PE Specialist or classroom teacher as well, both for themselves and so that they have an understanding of what their students have experienced. Though there will always be a LCI remaining back with any students who remain back, the school will have to decide what level of supervision is appropriate.
The district requires that each student going on a street ride have completed the Contract for Activity Participation, a two-page standard district form. Field trip permission forms are not used. The form is sent home with a cover letter explaining the program and the street ride. It can be challenging to get forms back from parents and students, and that is one of the issues a school must consider when deciding whether or not to do the street ride. Prior experience indicates that sending the form home two weeks before the street ride lesson works well, enough time but not too much time, but each school will determine a lead time based on knowledge of their school community. Since the street ride lessons require additional LCI staff to meet the student-to-instructor ratio, and require time for sending home and getting back the Contract for Activity Participation, a decision must be made, no later than the first day of on-bike lessons, whether or not to do the street ride.
The parent letter is available in Spanish as well as English. If other languages are desired, please let us know as soon as possible. If the district has translation services available in that language, the Safe Routes program will do the translation, but a lead time of two weeks is necessary. The school may also do the translation itself. The Contract for Activity Participation is available in multiple languages, but we will have to check if the languages you need are available.