Thanks to Active Trans' Kids on Wheels program, more kids in the region are learning to ride bikes safely and more schools are offering bike education.
Kids on Wheels provides a “starter fleet” consisting of a fully enclosed mobile trailer containing 28 bikes, helmets, and all the needed accessories and training for a school district to provide a comprehensive bike education program.
Through a two-year transitional program, participating school districts partnering with local park districts get to experience what top notch on-bike training for kids looks like, and their staff and volunteers become trained to run the program themselves without having to make any initial financial investment in the materials.
If, after the first “demo” year the community wants to continue with the program, Active Trans works with the partners to find funding sources to purchase a permanent fleet for the district while continuing a transitional second year of programming for the district. After the second year, the community should have all the training, experience and materials to continue programming on its own going forward.
Active Trans then takes the “starter fleet” to a new community to replicate the process, acting as a Johnny Appleseed of bike safety.
Lots of schools in the area want to provide hands-on bike education for kids, but they don't have the bikes to do it. That's where Kids on Wheels comes in.
Our first year of programming ran through spring and summer of 2014 and consisted of one fleet that served one school district, Oak Park District 97, in partnership with the Park District of Oak Park.
That year, we provided bike education programs to nearly 700 students in seven schools, working with 3rd- and 4th-grade students as well as a summer “bike n’ hike” camp.
This year, the program took a leap forward when we added another fleet of bikes and were able to expand the program to the South Suburban community of Blue Island, North Surburban Northbrook and four Chicago Public elementary schools in low-income communities. In 2015, the program served 17 schools, educating 1,690 students.
Research says that children who routinely bike and walk are more attentive, test better, have better overall health outcomes and are less likely to watch TV and smoke.
With so many good reasons for kids to ride bikes, we're thrilled that this program is going to make more kids safer on bikes and ultimately get more kids biking throughout the region.
A special thanks to our partners Specialized and Kozy's Cyclery for helping make this program a success.