San Jose ranks first for kids' cycling safety

Street Smarts school scheme a benchmark

San Jose, California ranks first in teaching its kids cycling safety, according to the Alliance for Bicycling & Walking in the US.

The 2010 Benchmark Report, a national survey, reviewed 50 of the largest cities to determine how educated children were regarding bicycle safety.

San Jose topped the league table, ahead of Honolulu, Columbus, San Francisco and Long Beach, because one in nine students has had safety training

The city's Street Smarts School Safety Education Program, run by the San Jose Transportation Department, teaches kids between the ages of five and 15 bike safety, reaching more than 23,000 elementary and middle school students annually, according to Jennifer Smelyanets of Global Fluency.

“San Jose elementary and middle schools can request the Program at no cost,” said Smelyanets. “The Program uses fun, interactive safety presentations in a variety of formats to teach students behaviours that will help keep them safe, especially during drop-off and pick-up times.”

The scheme offers an array of activities, including an interactive traffic safety assembly, a bike ‘roadeo’ simulation course, helmet giveaways and fittings, and a Street Smarts movie on pedestrian safety.

In the classroom, activities include discussions about safe walking and biking, a Classroom Kit with talking points for teachers, quizzes and activities, traffic safety educational materials, Street Smarts school safety fence banners, pedestrian safety posters and parent education seminars.

"Teaching kids bike safety and the proper way to wear a helmet builds a foundation of safety for our community as we head in this direction," said Hans Larsen, the city's transportation director.

According to a recent press release, San Jose plans to improve cycling on its streets by introducing a public bike-sharing scheme, completing 20 new cycleways and installing 300 bike racks this year.

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