By Thomas Buell Jr. | CNA Media Team
It’s just after lunchtime on a recent Friday afternoon as a line of about 25 fifth graders on bicycles rolls cautiously onto the streets of Concordia from Faubion School.
Under the watchful eye of teachers and volunteers, the young cyclists ride along Holman Street, across 33rd Avenue in the crosswalk by McMenamins Kennedy School, and on to Fernhill Park. All the way they demonstrate proper hand signals and observe the rules of the road, with plenty of encouragement from the adults riding along with them.
This community ride caps off the two-week Safe Routes to School Bike Safety Education Program offered by The Street Trust to all fourth and fifth graders at Faubion. The Street Trust is a nonprofit member organization founded in 1990 as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.
“It’s a great program because it’s so important to provide safety training and help make them real Portland bikers,” said Faubion teacher Jamie Makara. “Some of these students don’t have that much opportunity to ride a bike and, if they do, they may not get proper safety training.”
Earlier in the week, the students prepared for the ride with classroom sessions focusing on the basics of safe riding, proper helmet fit and the importance of following traffic laws. Bikes and helmets for the classes are provided for all the students as part of the Safe Routes to School program.
Similar classes are presented throughout Portland Public Schools and neighboring districts, thanks to support and funding from the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the state of Oregon.
The Street Trust partners with community groups, schools, businesses, government agencies and elected officials to promote walking, biking and riding transit.
The Street Trust describes its vision of a strong community as one “where everyone from all racial backgrounds has access to safe, healthy and affordable transportation options in the neighborhoods where they live, work, learn, pray and play. We want all residents to equally share in the prosperity created by investments in active transportation regardless of race, income and socioeconomic status.”
Back at Fernhill Park, the Faubion students have a choice of riding down a hill and up the other side, or walking their bikes down a gentler slope before making their way back along Ainsworth Street.
At the intersection on 33rd, they wait for a green light before crossing in smaller groups and returning to school safe and sound.
Thomas Buell Jr. is an award-winning writer, editor and content strategist living in Concordia.
Editor’s note: If off-road bicycling is to your liking, see Dan Werle’s story here.