When students at Laguna Elementary in the Flowing Wells School District return to school this August, they’ll be able to use two wheels and a newly installed bike track to stay active during recess.
The schools’ administration received a $10,000 grant, help from Pima County’s Safe Routes to School instructor Ignacio Rivera de Rosales and construction company Tucson Bobcat to create a bike track on Laguna’s campus. The track is a third of a mile and consists of berms, table tops and straightaways around the playground area.
Laguna’s wellness coordinator, Pat Cline, had been dreaming about a bike track on campus and got the process rolling two years ago.
“I saw the kids in the neighborhood riding higgly-piggly out in traffic and it just scared me tremendously,” Cline said. “They had no helmets and no concept of bicycle safety. That was one of the reasons I wanted this to happen at our school.”
Additionally, she said when she was a fourth-grade teacher she met Rivera de Rosales during his Safe Routes to School safety presentation and was shocked by how many kids couldn’t ride a bike.
Cline said that is when the idea of the bike path hit her. She approached people from the Communities Putting Prevention to Work program and was able to secure a $10,000 grant to make the track a reality.
In addition to the track, the school was able to purchase 30 bikes to keep on campus for the students to ride.
Laguna Principal Theresa Leal-Holmes said she was excited about the track from the very beginning despite a lot of school districts being concerned about safety issues related to biking.
“I don’t know if there is a principal who doesn’t stay up at night wondering how kids are going to be safe,” Leal-Holmes said. “I don’t want to say a no-brainer because a lot of thought went into it, but nothing is 100 percent, they can be out playing kickball and get hurt.”
She said they are going to train the students how to ride the track and have instituted a licensing system, which allows the students to ride the track after they have gone through the training program. The student’s licenses can be revoked if they are seen riding unsafely on the track.
Leal-Holmes said she hopes the training will translate well into the streets as the kids are riding around their neighborhoods and hopes the bike track will turn them into active adults.
She said she was fortunate to have the backing of the school board and administration from the very beginning.
Initially the school will target 4th through 6th grade students because of the size of the bikes and because they all have had the Safe Routes to School safety training. In the coming years they plan to open it to third graders as well.
Be sure to check out the video of the track at the top of the post.