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  • Pima County’s bike program connects students to two-wheeled fun and fitness

    Feb 02, 2017 | Read More News
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    School kids, many from economically disadvantaged homes, are cruising the neighborhoods near their schools on brand-new bikes, thanks to Pima County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program.
     
    The “Team Bike” program uses local and federal funds to purchase bikes, helmets, repair stands, toolkits, parts, supplies, and bike locks for schools. The County contracts with Bike Ambassadors to go into the schools and work with students on safety issues, including rides in the neighborhood where the ambassador talks to kids about bike safety and how to navigate the streets.
    Bike donations 
    The students also often ride The Loop, since many of the schools that are part of the school bike program are within a mile of the shared use pathway.
     
    Matthew Zoll, director of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, says three more schools are joining the bike safety program in the next month or two, which will bring the total number of participating schools to 20. He estimates the program will have delivered over 500 bikes by the time those schools are on board.
     
    On Feb. 1, Zoll and Benjamin Chandler, who represents Ben’s Bikes (Pima County’s vendor), delivered bikes and helmets to Los Amigos Tech Academy in the Sunnyside Unified School District, located just south of the Julian Wash section of The Loop.
     
    The bikes fit in with other healthy initiatives at the school of 700 students, said its Principal Valerie Lopez-Miranda. 

    On “Fitness Fridays,” teachers arrive at 7 a.m. and walk with kids from their nearby neighborhoods into school. Zumba classes and hula hoop competitions also reinforce healthy habits.

    The bikes will be used in the after-school program and as part of physical education classes. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our kids, it really is,” Lopez-Miranda said.

    The students agreed. Fourth-grader Enrique Estrada regularly rides his bike with his brothers, so riding at school will be a bonus.

    “I’m excited,” Enrique said, after helping unload the bikes. “It will be fun.”

    Added classmate Eylin Flores: “I absolutely like to ride because it makes me more energized. I think it’s pretty cool.”
     
    Seth Alshire, principal of Pueblo Gardens Elementary School in the Tucson Unified School District, said he was “incredibly grateful” to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program for the donation of bikes to his school in 2016. Pueblo Gardens, he said, is one of the few remaining community schools in TUSD, which means no students are bused in. All either walk, bike or are dropped off by families.
     
    “So it is critically important that our student who do bike or would like to, understand proper bike safety,” Alshire explained. “The bike program will be an integral component of teaching our students the skills they need to navigate to and from school safely. None of this would be possible without the generous donation from the Bike and Pedestrian program.”
     
    The Pima County Bicycle and Pedestrian Program is responsible for planning, engineering, and improving bicycle and pedestrian facilities throughout unincorporated Pima County. The program is dedicated to improving safety and access for walkers and cyclists and seeks to accomplish this through engineering, enforcement, encouragement, and evaluation.
     
    For more information, visit Pima County's Bicycle and Pedestrian Program at www.bikeped.pima.gov or call 520-724-BIKE.


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