Brenda Vavroch the Iowa Safe Routes to School Coordinator at INRCOG wrote the following blog about her trip to help support the Independence Iowa and their Bike Safety Day.
Independence, Iowa has a long history of building strong, safe and independent bike riders. Local community group, Indee- Go- Healthy and the school district have been organizing a Bike Safety day in May with 3rd graders for about 12 years. Many of the volunteers and partners I spoke with have been helping for at least 7 years and look forward to it each time. The day comes with much excitement from the 3rd graders and brings back memories and the lessons learned for the older grades as they pass by the many bikes parked outside as they arrive at school.
Fred Smocks, the event organizer spends months leading up to the event lining up volunteers from the Buchanan County Four Seasons Trail Committee, County Public Health and Health Center Staff, Independence Police, County Sheriff’s Department, and local bike shop to make a fun and safe learning event. The school staff organizer, Helen Lukes, works with her team of teachers to identify students that do not have bikes as well as total number of participants. Donations are received to purchase new bikes for students in need and new helmets are given to all 3rd graders. The local bike shop, Circle 8 Cyclery, and community members spend the morning performing routine maintenance and minor repairs on each bike, so the kids will have a working bike to use later in the afternoon. The public health staff along with Area Ambulance Service provide education on helmets and clean up any scrapes that happen as kids test new skills. The police and sheriffs’ departments educate the students about proper hand signals and how to obey traffic signs. The kids cheer each other on and wish the event to never end!
This community takes great ownership of their Bike Safety Day and Safe Routes to School Program is happy to support them and celebrates their wonderful event.