Riding in traffic, proper hand signals, and general bicycle safety.
South Tucson kids ages 6 to 11 are learning to properly ride their bikes at the Ochoa Bike Club at the John Valenzuela Youth Center of South Tucson.
BICAS, Safe Routes to School of South Tucson, and the Youth Center teamed up to provide an after school bike program for students at Ochoa Magnet School to help them understand how to safely ride and maintain their bikes.
“We focus on students learning safe road riding, how to recognize traffic, where to ride in the road, hand signals to communicate and also building riding skills which make them stronger safer riders,” said Kristin Mcray, one of the Education Coordinators for BICAS,. The Ochoa Bike Club “really helps make bicycling a visible and relevant part of life” for the community and children.
Parents are excited about their children getting active and learning to be better riders. When they will need transportation to get themselves to school or work, the skills will come in handy.
The community has begun to take notice of the group’s effort to encourage bike education and safety.
“South Tucson is in some ways a small community and everyone knows what’s going on,” said Vanessa Cascio, Manager of Safe Routes to School Tucson. The club has received a lot of positive feedback and continues to interact with the community.
“We have people waving, honking their horns, and saying hello as they pass by,” Cascio said. “It’s great to see a group of kids on the street in a positive way and it brings a lot of positive energy to the streets.”
Cascio is a Safe Routes veteran who has put in a lot of time and effort to get the Ochoa Bike Club going.
In South Tucson, many families can’t afford bikes and those who can have no access to a bike shop. The bike club is meant to bring more resources to the table and teach kids how to fix and ride their own bikes.
Mcray said many kids who didn’t have a bicycle at home or needed repairs have “come to the club telling me about how much they love the club and how important it is to them.”
“I have seen kids who don’t know how to ride at all on the first day learn confidence,” Mcray said.
Carlyn Arteaga, a BICAS instructor, loves seeing the joy on kids’ faces once they learn how ride.
“We had one girl in the club who didn’t know hot ride a bike at all when she started. We taught her to ride and she was pretty wobbly for a couple of weeks… but by winter break, she was zooming all over the place! She even got her own bike for Christmas!
The club has worked with as many as 20 kids at any one time, and continues to spread its influence.
The BICAS volunteer program hosts mandatory monthly orientations for new volunteers. Contact email@example.com if you are interested in applying.
Hunter Kerr is a reporter for El Independiente, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org