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Surgeon General lauds BTA’s bike safety education efforts

Posted by on April 10th, 2008 at 9:07 am

U.S. Surgeon General Rear Adm. Steven Galson, joined the girls from Harriet Tubman Academy for a bike ride in North Portland yesterday.
Photo Gallery (29 images)
(Photos © J. Maus)

When a dignitary visits Portland, what better thing for them to do than go on a bike ride, in the rain, with a bunch of kids?

The U.S. Surgeon General was in Portland yesterday touting his anti-obesity initiative. As part of his visit, he stopped at a school in North Portland where he presented an award to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and then joined students on a short bike ride.

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Rear Adm. Galson and Scott
Bricker from the BTA.

Acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., attended a press conference at the Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women where he said the BTA’s program, “is a model for the rest of the country.”

“When I looked at what was going on at this school,” he said, “I knew this was the place I had to visit in Oregon.”

Rear Adm. Galson told the crowd that a recent study showed video game usage among kids has gone up 75% in the last five years and that, if we’re going to curb inactivity and obesity, “we have to attack this at every level.”

Before presenting the BTA with a Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future Champion award he again mentioned the BTA’s efforts and said, “if we [the U.S.] had more organizations like this, it would make it easy for me to jump-start what I’m trying to do.”

Rear Adm. Galson’s visit put a spotlight on the bike safety education class at the Harriet Tubman Academy, and it was also a long overdue recognition of one Portland’s very first bike safety educators, Kathryn Smith. Smith has taught bike safety education with the BTA since 2000, when the program was just a pilot out of one school (Ockley Green) in North Portland.

U.S. Surgeon General rides in Portland-20.jpg

Bike safety educator Kathryn Smith,
being introduced by Scott Bricker.

Since then, the BTA has taught tens of thousands of kids in schools throughout Oregon how to walk and bike safely.

When Smith first started with the BTA, it was Scott Bricker who was heading up their education programs. Bricker, now the organization’s executive director, was at the ceremony yesterday to honor Smith’s dedication.

Other speakers at the event included City of Portland Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams, Metro Councilor (and BTA founder) Rex Burkholder, and Oregon State Epidemiologist Mel Kohn.

After the press conference, Dr. Galson changed out of his military uniform, grabbed a helmet, threw a leg over a new Giant bicycle (donated by Bike ‘n Hike), and pedaled a short loop with about 15 youngsters from the class.

U.S. Surgeon General rides in Portland-28.jpg

Rear Adm. Galson on N. Williams Ave.
U.S. Surgeon General rides in Portland-23.jpg

I rode alongside and chatted with Dr. Galson for a few minutes. He said it felt great to get out on a bike. Due to a hectic travel schedule he said, “That’s the downside to being Surgeon General, I haven’t been out on my bike for a long time.”


See more photos in the gallery.

Read and listen to a report that was broadcast on OPB this morning.

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  • Avatar
    Qwendolyn April 10, 2008 at 9:32 am

    That Bricker fellow is one hunk of man-meat.

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    Jessica Roberts April 10, 2008 at 9:40 am

    That\’s not really an appropriate comment…

    Congrats to the BTA. When I met Scott ten years ago he was just setting up the Bicycle Safety Education Program that has now become a national model and has educated tens of thousands of kids over the years. (Can any BTA commenter give the latest amount? I\’m guessing around 50,000 by now?) Scott has always had a real passion for getting kids on bikes and giving them real-world skills, and he\’s helped make that one of the BTA\’s top priorities. I\’m glad to see his hard work recognized.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 10, 2008 at 9:48 am

    \”Can any BTA commenter give the latest amount? I\’m guessing around 50,000 by now?

    the OPB story this morning said 40,000.

    And as for Scott\’s passion… it might have something to do with this 😉 (I think that\’s his stepdaughter):


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    heather andrews April 10, 2008 at 10:45 am

    That\’s the biggest smile I\’ve ever seen on a Surgeon General. If Ramblin\’ Rod were still around, I bet he\’d win the smile contest. : )

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    Stripes April 10, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    It\’s been really good to see a really, really serious push being made between cycling and an ever-expanding range of benefits in people\’s lives.

    Cycling is now closely linked a myriad of beneficial things, including good health – both physically and mentally; community building; sustainable urban planning; and the promotion of an economic and democratic way to get around. It\’s not just \”about the environment\” anymore, and I think that\’s what gets people on board.

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    john April 10, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Yep, Cycling can save America! And solve all our problems. Well for sure help with the Oil and Health.. I have always consider the environment as a minor benefit from cycling… Yes, All the other benefits are much bigger.

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    Lillian Karabaic April 10, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Check out for more photos from the bike ride with the Surgeon General.

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    mark April 10, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    it\’s a wholly appropriate comment, I think. I wanna know where I can get an enormous helmet like that, too! It looks like it could keep the rain off the rest of your body, too! sweet!!

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  • […] regular bike rider who has shown engagement and interest in encouraging the use of bicycles — especially through the Safe Routes to School program — for years. Dr. Kohn on a bike in Southeast […]

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