Planning is underway at Old Rochester Regional (ORR) School District for bicycle safety education to occur in April. Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos announced that the program, which focuses on safe and legal bike riding, will be launched early this April with a kick off at the JRHS where students will experience co-taught training with Physical Education teacher Karen Horan and a state trainer Samantha Gold. A combination of classroom and on-bike classes will be offered. This pilot program will occur in both 7th and 8th grade and at the High School level, reaching as many as 300 students. The goal is to help students understand the rules of the road, the importance of helmets, and to practice skills for safe riding in the back lot of the secondary campus. A pre- and post- assessment will measure learning.
The program is a partnership between the Old Rochester Regional School District, Massachusetts Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School, MassBike (a state-wide bike safety advocacy organization), and Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike Path. Approximately 300 students, grades 7-10, will receive the trailing. If the pilot program is successful, courses will be offered as an integral part of ORR’s PE curriculum next year. ORR PE instructors Nancy Cowan, Christopher Cabe, and Karen Horan will work with instructors from MassBike and Safe Routes to School to develop a multi-part curriculum. Friends of the Bike Path secured a grant from G.H. Dunn Insurance Agency, Inc. to underwrite costs of 30 bike helmets and instructional services that are not provided by the Safe Routes to School.
Bonne DeSousa stated she is very pleased that bike ed will be offered in the schools. “This program is not possible without a fleet of bikes available to instructors. We’re making that possible.” She continued, “As more and more people take to our roads for fun, commuting, and exercise, it is important that bicyclists clearly understand the basics of bike handling and the rules of the road.” Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos, a Marion resident, believes bike education, both from the riders’ perspective and the motorists’ view is an essential life skill. As a leader in the Healthy Tri-Town Coalition, Frangos believes “these bike skills help make kids college and career ready, can save lives and provide students with lifelong, enjoyable fitness.” The Department of Transportation supports bicycling as a sustainable transportation option that has economic and health benefits.