By: Edward Nabong
In 1972, Eddy Merckx set a world record at the time by riding 30.7 miles in one hour. In March of 2013, a young girl named her bike “Mustard” and fell over before she even rode 20 feet. Though there may not be any world champion cyclists in the Kids on Bikes program, it has been hugely rewarding to participate in. In my time working for Kids on Bikes, I’ve had the opportunity to teach children important cycling safety skills, and have hopefully helped to foster a love for sports and the outdoors by introducing them to cycling.
Some of my students do not have bicycles of their own at home and are thrilled every day they get to ride bikes at school. Many of these kids would have seen cycling as something others do, instead of a sport or mode of transportation that they could use. For all of the students, the most exciting part of the whole program is the 5th grade ride through the local neighborhood. The ability to spend time on bikes out of school and to see their community from a new perspective is a great was to help develop a passion for cycling.
Of course, the most important aspect of the Kids on Bikes program is to teach the students bicycle safety. It is always concerning to see cyclists around town without helmets, unable to signal and unaware of their surroundings. But because my students are proficient in bicycle safety, it is easier to feel confident in the student’s ability to navigate the streets safely. Recently I was lucky enough to see my effort truly pay off. I was on my way home from school, walking through my neighborhood when I noticed a child on a bike. This child was on the right side of the road, wearing a helmet, and paying attention to what she was doing. Just before she came to a turn, she looked behind her for cars. This is when I noticed that this child was one of my former students!
I am no teacher, but it is a truly satisfying experience to know that I was able to pass on a love of cycling. This program keeps kids safe when cycling, gets kids excited to exercise outside, plants the seeds for our future cycling communities, and is worth every minute of my time.
Edward Nabong was the 2013 Spring Kids on Bikes intern that taught the Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program to 3rd-5th graders in Leon County Elementary School every day and a FSU student that just graduated with a degree is Psychology and a member of the FSU Triathlon Club.