Bicycling is a fun and healthy form of transportation and physical activity, bringing many benefits to both the cyclist and to his or her community. It is also the first independent mode of travel for many children, aside from walking. Bicycling requires skill, technique, and an awareness of the rules of the road that is often not part of school curriculum. New Jersey Association for Health Physical education, Recreation and Dance (NJAHPERD) and the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation center at Rutgers (VTC) are working together through a New Jersey Healthy Communities Network grant to help Physical Education teachers in Irvington, NJ implement the New Jersey Bike School curriculum, an on-bike safety program targeted to students in grades 4-6.

The New Jersey Bikes School curriculum is based on Bikeology, a curriculum published by SHAPE America developed inLois consultation with physical education, bicycle education, and injury prevention experts.  The New Jersey Bikes School curriculum condenses Bikeology to focus on lessons most appropriate for young children. The revised curriculum here omits the more advanced lessons from Bikeology, as well as in-class worksheets and other activities that do not involve physical activity.  The curriculum provides physical education teachers and recreation specialists the knowledge and resources to implement an on-bicycle safety education program for youth and contains the necessary preparations and minimum-level benchmarks to meet when teaching safe bicycle riding and is suitable for enhancing skill at the recreational bicycling level.

With funding from a New Jersey Healthy Communities Network grant, NJAHPERD and VTC have been able to work with Second Life Bikes in Asbury Park to purchase and assemble a fleet of bikes that will be shared with Irvington as the P.E. teachers implement the curriculum in their classes. With word from Second Life Bikes that our bicycle fleet was near completion, staff from the VTC and NJAHPERD coordinated hands on, on-bike training earlier this month for Physical Education teachers in Irvington to make sure they were ready to start their in-class bicycle education lessons.  A Teachers’ In- Service Day on October 9th provided the perfect opportunity to present the teachers in Irvington with the New Jersey Bikes School curriculum. NJAHPERD and VTC went to Irvington to meet with Irvington Supervisor of Physical Education Dr. John Taylor and nine P. E. Instructors working at Irvington schools.   The training session started in the classroom where the group discussed curriculum basics and important off-bike lessons such as helmet fit, bike fit, and the rules of the road as they pertain to bicycling. The second half of the training was held outside and on-bike.   The on-bike session focused on teaching basic bicycle handling skills.  The instructors learned how to set up and to teach on-bike lessons including starting, hand signals, scanning/signaling, turning, and braking. Following the on-bike lessons, the P.E. teachers headed back inside for a discussion about program logistics and the opportunity to ask questions and learn from Lois Joyce, NJAHPERD President Elect, who had successfully incorporated these lessons into her P.E. classes prior to her retirement.

With the bike fleet nearly finished and New Jersey Bikes School curriculum training completed, we are looking forward to seeing on-bike bicycle education implemented in Irvington!