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Middle schoolers learn bicycle, pedestrian safety with help from grant

Sixth- and seventh-graders throughout Lake Stevens are learning how to be safer cyclists and walkers through the Safe Routes to School Bike and Pedestrian Safety Education (SRTS) Program. Lake Stevens School District received a $30,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation to implement the program at Lake Stevens and North Lake Middle Schools.

The grant funded the purchase of 30 bicycles and helmets, a utility trailer for storage and transport, training for teachers and substitutes for their classrooms, curriculum, educational materials, training equipment and technical support.

At Lake Stevens Middle School (LSMS), PE teachers Dave Larson, Debbie Stalder, Sami Todoroff and Andy Wheat began implementing the program this year. They participated in two days of training, along with four teachers from North Lake Middle School, where the program will be implemented in the future.

Safe Ride to School

Along with comprehensive lessons, the program incorporates on-bike instruction on basic rules of the road for safe operation of a bicycle and best practices as a pedestrian.

Before students have the opportunity to ride on a bike, they take and pass a written test to ensure understanding of safety rules and procedures. They must also know how to safely inspect a bicycle to check for proper tire inflation, working breaks, cranks and chains.

Larson, Stalder, Todoroff and Wheat used special tape to create roads, intersections, roundabouts and driveways on the school’s gym floor. Students walk the roads to learn how to navigate stop signs, traffic lights, merging and lane changes. Then, students go on bike rides on a predetermined course through the LSMS campus, up to Skyline Elementary School and back. Once they have mastered the written and “riding” portions, they earn a special student bicycle license.

Students begin the program with varying skills and knowledge—some already know how to ride a bike, and others are learning for the first time. The goal of the program is to improve safety and encourage more students to safely bicycle and walk to school. In the process, the programs are working to reduce traffic congestion and improve student health and the environment, increase student academic success, increase attendance, and make communities more livable for everyone.

"In addition to safely learning to ride bicycles, our students are having a ton of fun,” said Stalder. “Lifelong exercise can be enjoyed by all ages!”