Entirely grant-funded, the SRTS program has successfully increased walking and biking in Harrisonburg City schools for the past four years. Following in the city's footsteps, the RCPS program is funded by successfully securing an $86,000 federal grant to fund a local coordinator as well as purchase equipment to teach safe walking and biking in our schools. The program will focus on grades K-8 and will serve to supplement the bicycle programs currently underway in our high schools.
The new coordinator, Kyle Lawrence, has deep roots in the local cycling community and is excited to work with elementary and middle school principals and physical education teachers. Kyle will move the bike fleet among our schools with the trailers and assist RCPS staff in teaching students safe bicycling and walking skills. If RCPS can successfully secure the grant in subsequent years, it will aim to place a fleet of bicycles in each elementary and middle school and ensure every student knows how to ride a bicycle before starting high school.
Virginia boasts a very successful SRTS program with many great success stories across the Commonwealth. Rockingham County will be the first rural county to implement the program in the state of Virginia. Given the geographic distances and existing road conditions, most students will not be able to walk or bike to school. Instead, the program seeks to model and teach safe walking and biking skills while at school in addition to increasing physical activity during the school day. Students will learn safety skills that will help them throughout their lives as they negotiate streets and sidewalks on foot or bike.
The program aims to reach every elementary and middle school yet involvement in the program will differ from school to school as principals and teachers decide how they want to join the program and incorporate it into their school. While some schools will hold bike rodeos this spring, others are already looking towards fall of 2016 for their events. Many schools are already planning how to celebrate National Bike to School Day in May or National Walk to School Day in October. Other schools are eager to use the bicycles to start new after school programs.
If you have an idea for an event or want more information please contact Kyle Lawrence, the RCPS Safe Routes to School Coordinator.
Info submitted by Kyle Lawrence