Every kid should be able to ride their bike to school. This right of passage, ushering in new freedoms and new independence for kids also brings with it the prospect of new angst and worry for parents. Between 1969 and 2001, the percentage of school-aged students who walked or biked to school in the United States declined from 41% to just 13%. Traffic and safety concerns are cited as the primary barriers to parents feeling comfortable in allowing their children to bike- or walk to school.
The Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS) is taking the lead in creating a safer environment for students to ride their bikes to-and-from school; now through a partnership with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, ANCS is providing middle school campus students with the knowledge and training needed to develop safe cycling habits and strengthen on-bike decision making skills.
Safe Routes To School (SRTS)
ANCS is the recipient of a $500K federal grant for a Safe Routes To Schools (SRTS) project to enhance walking and bicycling opportunities for students and the communities around each campus. In conjunction with the Georgia DOT and the City of Atlanta Department of Public Works, which sponsor the project, ANCS will construct and improve campus-area facilities such as sidewalks and crosswalks and address safety issues by various programs—all designed to make it easier and safer for students to walk or bike to school.
Confident City Cycling
On October 19th, 2011 ANCS has arranged for students to participate in the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s Confident City Cycling Course. This compact yet comprehensive class covers everything students need to know to learn to “drive” thier bike safely and confidently in a city neighborhood environment. It includes bike handling skill drills and an instructor-led ride with feedback to reinforce what students learn in class.
Our Family’s Experience
Since starting 6th Grade at ANCS this year, my 10 year old son Liam has ridden his bike nearly every day. We rode together for the first couple of weeks optimizing a route that balanced distance, traffic and safety. Our route includes the crossing of 3 fairly major thoroughfares. Two of these crossings he handles solo, but for the third and busiest he has coordinated a meet-up with other students to safely cross en-masse. Liam now rides by himself most days and I have noticed a new (though far from perfect) level of situational awareness in him on our rides together. He has even modified his route slightly on his own to avoid a dog that enjoys chasing kids on bikes! I look forward to the additional skills and knowledge that Liam will gain through his particiaption in the Confident City Cycling Course at ANCS!