By Kim Stanley, COAST Safe Routes to School Coordinator
At Carpinteria Open Streets three youth on bikes caught my eye. They were comfortable in the saddle, helmets properly fitted and appeared to be close friends.
I wondered if COAST’s educational programs at the Carpinteria elementary schools had any influence on these kids’ biking knowledge so I asked them a few questions. Soren Fourquean remembers when he participated in the 4th grade bike rodeo- he remembers the stop signs and riding right, but points out that his grandmother was the one who taught him all about bike safety. Diego Nieves remembers the “Bici Familia- Family Bike Night” (a COAST/SB Bike Partnership) at Aliso School where he got a free tune-up for his bike and rode the bike courses, but also states his key influences were his grandparents. Ivan Vargas does not remember any formal bike training. He learned on his own and cannot specifically remember being taught about the rules of the road, he “just knows them!”
When asked if they could choose to get to school in any way possible, what mode would they choose, they all three said: BIKE. They all alluded to biking being fun, feeling the wind in your face, healthy, that biking was good for the earth and that it was fun to bike with friends. We talk about these reasons a lot in the Safe Routes to School program, but these boys didn’t just know it intellectually, they were living it. I think that’s why they caught my eye.
As much as I wanted the evidence to point to the Safe Routes to School program, it turns out there were many factors involved, including their experience with Safe Routes to School and Bici Familia, but also- adult family members, quiet, safe streets, places that are easy to get to, friends close by and the wind on their faces. It makes sense!
As we move forward encouraging our youth to use active transportation we cannot rely on any one method to shift transportation choices. The solution is “complete streets” and education combined.
To find out about upcoming Safe Routes to School events visit http://coast-santabarbara.org/safe-routes-to-school/calendar/