Recreation’s bike safety education classes can play a crucial part. In 2014-15, almost 1100 students in Bethel, Eugene 4J and Springfield school districts took a 10-hour bike safety program led by City of Eugene Recreation instructors from River House. The program is part of Safe Routes to Schools, which now runs on a mix of federal, state and local funding. Thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Jane Higdon Memorial Fund for Bike Safety, the program will serve even more students in 2015-16, including in Springfield, where plans are in the works for Willamalane to oversee the program in their area.
Zane Wheeler is a program assistant with Eugene Recreation, and he’s in charge of the bike safety training. “The goal of the classes is to increase the use of alternative forms of transportation,” he says, “by creating confident, safe and aware young riders.”
The Higdon Memorial grant money helps fund the City of Eugene Recreation instructors for the classes. Demand far outstrips funding, and the generous grant will help meet some of that demand.
Instructors help students learn traffic laws and safety concerns for bicyclists in the classroom before everyone moves outside for bike handling drills and practice. One of last year’s teachers wrote, “Thank you for sending us such AWESOME, positive, personable and professional instructors.”
The final two days of class incorporate community bike rides in the neighborhoods near the school, and Wheeler says this is where volunteers can come into play to help keep things safe for the budding bikers to be.
For more information or to volunteer, call Zane Wheeler at 541-682-6321.