NCESD Rolls Out Bicycle Education To First Schools In Region
As part of the historic Move Ahead Washington transportation bill, passed in March 2022, a school-based bicycle safety education program is rolling out to grades 3-8 Physical Education classes across Washington. NCESD has been selected by the grant provider, Cascade Bicycle Club, as a first-year partner and has already delivered bikes to four schools in North Central Washington.
|Schools Served in 2023
|School Scheduled for 2024
|Manson School District
|Entiat School District
|Soap Lake Elementary
|Mansfield School District
|East Omak Elementary
|Waterville School District
The program teaches youth in grades 3-8 bike and pedestrian street safety knowledge with the goal for students to become more confident bicyclists for transportation and/or recreation. The program will be available to nearly all of Washington’s public elementary and middle schools by 2038. NCESD plans to reach 80 schools annually by 2032 (grades 3-8). That’s about 90% of the region’s eligible elementary and middle schools.
Based on the Cascade Bicycle Club’s program that has been successful in Seattle and Edmonds for the last 10 years, the curriculum, named “Let’s Go”, is typically 3 weeks and is implemented in elementary and middle school PE classes. For participating schools, PE teachers receive training on the curriculum and how to teach the program. These full-day trainings are typically offered in mid-August across the state. During the school year, a trailer with 30 bicycles is delivered directly to the school. All class materials are included, and the curriculum can be taught inside a gym or outdoors. There is no cost to participating schools.
“Teaching our youth across Washington how to safely and confidently ride bikes for transportation and recreation is one of the most important and powerful things we can do to improve the health and wellness of our children and to create a cleaner, greener and more equitable state”, said Lee Lambert, Executive Director of Cascade Bicycle Club.
What About Students Who Can’t Ride?
The curriculum is fully inclusive and has lessons specifically for “Learn to Ride” students. Each trailer delivers at least two Strider-style push bikes, perfect for helping students new to riding bikes gain confidence.
“We’re finding that around 10% of elementary students don’t know how to ride a bike yet,” said Ian Woodford, Bike Education Project Manager at NCESD. “After the first session about half of them are able to ride on their own.”
For schools with students that would benefit from adaptive bicycles or tricycles, the trailers can include this equipment. The special needs aspect of the program is in its pilot phase and is expected to be rolled out in the next few years with lessons tailored to adaptive bicycle needs.
When Can My School Participate?
This first year is focused on pilot data and research. The development of the program’s infrastructure, including building thousands of bikes, will be completed by 2038. In the meantime, new schools will be prioritized based on the equity-centered criteria outlined in the legislation (ESSB 5974, Sec. 419), with middle school (grades 5-8) beginning in the 2025-26 school year. School districts can contact Woodford to add their schools to the rollout schedule.
Ian Woodford – Project Manager – Statewide Bicycle Education
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 509-224-9386
Who is Funding The Program?
NCESD’s “in-school” bike education program is designed, administered, and funded by Cascade Bicycle Club, the nation’s largest statewide bicycle nonprofit. The organization’s 10,000-members and 34 full-time-staff serve bike riders of all ages and abilities throughout Washington. They teach the joys of bicycling, advocate for safe places to ride, and engage with the bicycle community through our world-class events and rides.
Their signature programs include the Seattle to Portland, Free Group Rides, the Pedaling Relief Project, Your Streets Your Say advocacy training, Let’s Go, and the Major Taylor Project.
Learn more about the 16-year Move Ahead Washington bill and its $1.3 billion in funding for bike, walk, and roll infrastructure and programs.