It’s never too early for children to learn how to be safe not only on a bicycle, but as a future automobile driver, said Bevin Barber-Campbell, Montrose Area Bicycle Alliance education program manager.

The MABA has started to help young students in this regard by bringing the Safe Routes to School programming to local schools. 

Barber-Campbell said this educational tool will benefit both students and drivers. 

She said, as an example, if a child isn’t aware of how to safely ride a bike, he or she can get seriously injured by an automobile while attempting to cross the street. The driver could be liable for a lawsuit for the accident, even if it occurs away from a crosswalk, she added. 

“These are our future drivers and commuters,” Barber-Campbell said. “The goal is to teach them to be safe bicyclists. … But it also makes them bicycle-friendly drivers.”   

The Montrose Area Bicycle Alliance is an advocate for bicycle-related issues, and to provide information on bicycle education and safety, to be involved in bicycle path/trail development, and to provide a social network for area bicyclists.

“We really want to establish life-long healthy habits through active transportation,” said MABA Executive Director Tammy Zamoyski. 

This bicycle and pedestrian safety education happens during the students’ physical education classes, according to Barber-Campbell. 

Currently, Cottonwood Elementary School has implemented the program while Northside Elementary will do so later this fall. Additionally, both Columbine and Centennial Middle schools will tentatively start the program this winter and into the spring, said Barber-Campbell.

Safe Routes to School is a 20-year-old federal program created out of concern for the environment and rising rates of childhood obesity. The goal of the program is to encourage families to use active transportation to get to school. 

State and local programs have worked to implement education and encouragement activities. Both programs  have also helped improvements around infrastructure near schools to make it safer to bike or walk to them.

The Montrose Area Bicycle Alliance will also host the International Walk and Bike to School

Day on Wednesday, Oct. 2. 

Cottonwood will celebrate the event, said the school’s P.E. teacher Laurie Brooks. She added if the kids live too far away, the school staff told the parents they can drop their children off nearby at the Montrose Community Recreation Center, and have a short bike or walk to school. 

Programs like this show children to be cognisant of staying healthy as they get older,  Barber-Campbell said. 

“(Bicycles) are a mode of transportation, and there are all these benefits to it,” she said. 

Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress. 

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