For the seventh year, Revolutions has partnered with Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, YMCA of Greater Memphis, Peddler Bike Shop, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee to provide 30 children with bicycles and immerse them in a unique bicycle safety education and activity curriculum. Children from the YMCA’s Y-CAP and Multicultural Achievers program first met with Revolutions staff in late October to learn that they would be a part of this program and for measurements to be taken of their height (for bike sizing) and their head circumference (for helmet sizing). For the next two months, Revolutions volunteers worked on refurbishing bicycles from our inventory for each of the children.
There are two parts to the safety curriculum: an indoor activity that goes through basic rules of the road and bike handling techniques complete with workbook activities, and an outdoor activity that puts their newly fond knowledge to test in real world applications. Obviously, the outdoor activity is the most popular with the kids since they will be riding their new bikes for the first time at this event.
At the outdoor activity, kids first participate in a series of activities meant to help hone their bike handling skills, using real-world situations as the basis for their design.
Station 1 is a Bike Safety Check. Each child learns what they should check each time before they begin riding their bikes. Things like how to check air pressure and how to make sure your brakes are working are covered here.
Station 2 is a simulation of stopping at a stop sign, signaling a turn, and then making the turn when the way is clear. Skills like stopping are watched closely her. Also, because signaling isn’t always a part of a child’s experience when learning to ride a bike, signaling isn’t always intuitive. After going through this station about 5 times, a child picks it up pretty easily.
Station 3 is the hardest to master, but really important in a real-world application. This station is designed to simulate what skills are needed to look behind you when riding, while maintaining a straight riding line. Trust us, it’s harder than is sounds and we’ve seen many adults fail to master this skill. When looking back, the children must watch to see how many fingers our Station Master is holding up and shout out the correct number before turning around. By doing this, children demonstrate not just how to look around, but also how to correctly identify and assess any dangers that might be coming from behind them while riding.
Station 4 is the Slow Bike Race – One of our favorites. What are the rules? Simply put, you start at the start line and proceed forward to the finish line. Last one across the line without putting their foot down or running into a competitor wins. The kids learn a few skills from this – balance, braking, and precision handling, but also the knowledge that riding a bike isn’t all about being the fastest.
Station 5 is our Master Handling Course design to teach bike handling skills while children weave in and out of cones of progressively decreasing frequency. Trust us, the last three to four weaves are pretty tight. After a couple times down and back, the kids master this essential skill.
After these activities, the children are taken in small groups on a bike ride along neighborhood streets to put their new skills to the test. Stopping, signaling, and riding in the correct position on the street are watched and corrected during the ride. Additionally, the kids also get the opportunity to ride in one of the city’s new bike lanes for a short distance.
At the end of the day, the children get to take home their bikes, along with helmets, lights, and locks donated by Peddler Bike Shop, and their newly learned skills for endless hours of riding bikes.