Learning about Bike Safety at Jefferson Elementary
For more pictures, go to Your Permanent Record.
By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
MARCH 8, 2019 – On Wednesday, 100 fourth-graders at Jefferson Elementary had the chance to spend time with three Winston-Salem Police officers who are members of the Downtown Bike Patrol.
Sgt. Kevin Bowers, who is a supervisor with the Bike Patrol, came with two other members of the patrol – Cpl. David Smith and Officer Mark Mooney.
Officially, the police officers were there to talk about the importance of always wearing a helmet when you ride a bike and the other rules of the road before each student received a free helmet. Bowers also hoped the visit would be a good way for students to get to know some police officers and that, by the time the morning was done, students would feel comfortable with them.
The helmets were provided by Active Routes to School, a partnership between the N.C. Department of Transportation and the N.C. Division of Public Health.
After receiving their helmets, the fourth-graders would also work with adults to make sure they knew how to properly fit the helmets on their heads.
“My hope is they will wear their helmets correctly as well as consistently,” said Sheri King, who teaches physical education at Jefferson.
There were lots of adults to help them. Along with King and the police officers, the adults on hand included Beth Fornadley Johnson, who is the Region 3 Project Coordinator for Active Routes to School; Sara Harmon, the school system’s Healthful Living Program Manager; and Luly Beckles, who, as the Pediatric Injury Prevention Coordinator for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, works with Safe Kids Northwest Piedmont. Kionna Patterson, who is working as an intern with Beckles, was also there.
Before it was time to pass out and fit the helmets, everyone had a lot of ground to cover.
Bowers made the point that it’s important not only to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle but also when using skateboards, scooters, and hoverboards.
A bicycle is a vehicle – the first vehicle that a young person may own – and it’s important to follow the rules of the road.
They learned and practiced hand signals.
After student Karina Ordonez talked about why you use your left arm to signal left turns, right turns and coming to a stop because you are riding on the right side of the road and the left arm is the one that is visible to cars, Beckles invited her to the front to repeat what she had said to make sure everyone heard and understood it.
The police officers also talked about the importance of making eye contact with drivers when you stop at an intersection. If they don’t make eye contact, they may not be aware that you are there and it’s best to let the driver continue on his or her way before going into the intersection yourself.
Bowers talked about how it’s important to wear a helmet when you are riding even if you aren’t on the street because, if you fall, your head could hit a rock or something else.
Beckles also talked with the students, and she and Bowers made some of the same points. One was that, if you fall while wearing your helmet, don’t use it again. Go get a new one.
At one point, Beckles joked with the fourth-graders. When she asked whether they were 25 or 16, they said “no” in a way that made it clear that they didn’t mind such wrong guesses. But when she asked whether they were, say, 4, their responses made it clear that they had left such ages far behind.
Once all the pertinent topics had been covered and any questions answered, the adults got down to the business of helping each student select a helmet that was the right size and working with the students to make sure they knew how to wear them properly.
Other Winston-Salem/Forsyth County elementary schools have also completed bike safety events this year. They include Hall-Woodward, Kingswood, and Union Cross.
Before the end of the school year, bike safety events be held at Speas, North Hills, Clemmons, and Smith Farm elementary schools.
You can learn more about Active Routes to School at Active Routes.
You can learn more about the Downtown Bike Patrol at Bike Patrol.