Program teaches Willmar ALC students how to teach bike safety
WILLMAR — Keyanna Stauffer spray painted orange stripes Tuesday in the parking lot of the Willmar Area Learning Center while her classmates set up traffic cones and stop signs to create a bike rodeo course.
The students took turns telling CJ Lindor what he needed to do on his bicycle to maneuver through the course, making special note of safety tips.
"I learned how important it is to be riding safe on bikes," said Stauffer, 16, who said she wants to use what she learned to teach her 8-year-old twin sisters about how to safely ride their bikes and scooters.
"I also learned there are many different ways and activities that you can have fun outdoors and do it in a safe way," she said.
The exercise was part of the Walk! Bike! Fun! Ambassadors Program training, said Lindor, education coordinator for the Bike Alliance of Minnesota. Known as BikeMN, the nonprofit organization conducts bicycle education, advocacy and community events in an effort to make Minnesota a place where bicycling is easy.
The program includes "educational activities and ideas for supporting youth education by non-teachers," Lindor said.
This week the program was used to teach 10 Area Learning Center students about bike safety practices and how the students could be involved with community events — like putting on a walking and biking safety rodeo for young kids at events like Willmar Fest or Rockin Robbin.
Pam Vruwink, adult enrichment and communications coordinator for Willmar Community Education, said having BikeMN teach the ALC students how to be teachers means that "more community members" will be "trained to become more comfortable working with youth learning safe biking skills."
The half-day program in which the students participated was designed to train them to be local volunteers who will have what they need to help educate students about traffic rules and regulations, potential traveling hazards and skills needed to walk and bike safely through their community," according to a news release from BikeMN.
As the biking season is about to gain full speed and more bikes will be sharing the road with motorists, Lindor said bicyclists "fare best when they're treated like any other vehicle on the road."
He said motor vehicle drivers should expect to see people riding their bicycles and treat bicycles like they would any other slow-moving vehicle.
Bicyclists also need to follow the rules of the road.
"That's what keeps people safe on the roads," Lindor said.