Marblehead youth learn to ride safely

More than 70 students assembled Monday night for Glover School’s first Bike Rodeo. The parking lot had been transformed into an educational riding course for them to take on together. From preschoolers to third-graders, everyone got a lesson in riding safety.

Principal Hope Doran teamed up with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program’s Judy Crocker to make the event happen. 

SRTS is a free, federally-funded program that works to increase safe walking, biking, and rolling among public-school students. The program recently named Glover as having one of four exemplary programs in the state, and Doran hopes to continue to make bike riding a more accessible form of transportation for her school’s community. She was promoting the Bike Bus, an SRTS-influenced program that encourages students to ride to and from school, at the rodeo.

“Parents can fill out a form if they want their child to bike,” Doran said. “We are gonna set up meet-up spots for them to bike to school together with parent supervision in the fall.”

Dan Albert is a member of the soon-to-be Traffic Safety Committee in Marblehead, and he hopes to see the rest of the town’s school systems follow in Glover’s footsteps.

“Kids used to bike and walk to school, and now they don’t. They need to do it again,” Albert said. “There are 17,000 registered vehicles in this town and 20,000 people.”

The young riders were eager to take off in the course, but first Crocker had some advice to impart. She taught many safety topics including proper helmet-wearing, brake usage, pedestrian crossing, and the importance of being visible in the dark.

The students rode around for the better part of two hours. They all wanted to demonstrate their riding skills and what they learned. Kindergartner Luke Jordan, 6, has already ditched his training wheels and plans to ride his bike throughout the summer. Andrew Samuylov, 7, was looking forward to the rodeo after learning how to get his bike moving on his own recently.

“I didn’t just learn how to ride, but I learned how to start it,” he said.

Samuylov noted that learning how to get the initial momentum of riding was the hardest part, and his fellow first-graders agreed with him.

Doran was extremely pleased with her school’s first Bike Rodeo, and plans to have another as soon as this fall to maximize participation.