Black Hawk Middle School, on Madison’s north side, has been abuzz with six classes of sixth graders (roughly 11 or 12 years old) learning safe bicycling skills. The Bike for Life program brings a fleet of 30 bikes into middle school gym classes, using a modified version of a draft curriculum developed by the Bike Fed. During the Bike for Life unit, which piloted at Spring Harbor and Jefferson Middle Schools last year, students practice bicycle skills and learn how to avoid the most common causes types of crashes for people their age. All the while, they are encouraged and educated about how they can incorporate biking into their everyday transportation routines.
The Physical Education teachers that have implemented the Bike for Life program really appreciate it. Many middle school students now have physical education classes only once or twice a week, which makes encouraging them to get exercise outside of school is more important than ever. Nancy Seymour, the Phy. Ed teacher at Black Hawk, says, “I am so glad I’m doing this unit and the students are loving it!”
This program’s strength lies in all the partnerships that have brought it to fruition. Dream Bikes Madison donated the bike fleet, transports the trailer to and from the school, and maintains the bicycles. Sonia Dubielzig, of Madison Metropolitan School District’s Safe Routes to School Program, works with Phy. Ed teachers to coordinate the unit. She, myself from the Bike Fed’s Share and Be Aware program, and Steve Meiers from the City of Madison all help to teach the unit.
After Black Hawk, the bike fleet will go to Badger Rock Middle School, and then will be retired for the winter until next spring. We are excited to improve and expand this partnership to grow the number of kids that are informed, safe cyclists!