Bike Utah recently wrapped up the first year of their Youth Bicycle Education and Safety Training (BEST) program. This program is a statewide effort to teach kids how to safely and confidently get around by bicycle. The Youth BEST program officially started in September 2016, and is held at schools as a 5-hour, hands-on program for 4th through 7th graders. Over the course of the program, kids learn the benefits of riding a bicycle, the rules of the road, how to adjust and wear a helmet, how to navigate intersections, how to avoid hazards, and how to make sure their bike is in safe working order.
Bike Utah secured several grants to fund the program, so it’s free to any school or student wanting to participate. Bike Utah provides trained instructors, bicycles, helmets, and all other necessary equipment to be used during the program. The program is mobile and has the capacity to be implemented at schools in all corners of the state.
Bike Utah has seen outstanding outputs and outcomes through all of their assessments of the program. In year one of the program:
- 3,053 students (13% of the number of 10-year-olds in Utah) at 44 schools and community organizations have completed the program
- 77% increase in bicycle safety knowledge after completing the program
- 145% increase in bicycling and a 65% increase in walking at participating schools
- 34% increase in parents reporting that their child is interested in bicycling or walking to school
- 62% of parents reporting that, after their student’s participation in the bicycle education program, there is greater interest in bicycling and walking among other members of their household
“The outcomes from this program have exceeded our expectations,” said Phil Sarnoff, executive director of Bike Utah. “We are seeing program demand from students, schools, and parents. The biggest roadblock to getting more kids bicycling to school is the lack of safe bicycle routes between schools and neighborhoods. Through our program we are educating kids, families, and schools while building community support for better bicycle and walking infrastructure.”
The Youth BEST Program will continue during the 2017-2018 school year. So far more than 30% of the weeks are already scheduled and space is filling up quickly. Schools interested in bringing the Youth BEST program to their school can contact Bike Utah’s Education Director, Jace Burbidge, at [email protected]
Bike Utah received support for year one of the Youth BEST Program from the Utah Department of Transportation – Safe Routes to School Program, Sorenson Legacy Foundation, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments, Utah Department of Health – EPICC Program, Patagonia, George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, Mavic, Trek Bikes, Utah Transit Authority, and Bike Utah members.
More information about the program can be found at bikeutah.org/youth. Donations are also being accepted to sponsor kids to participate in the program. For every $25 contributed, Bike Utah can graduate one student from the Youth BEST Program.