(Photo courtesy of the BTA)
Remember the old saying, “If you give someone a fish, they will eat for a day. Teach a person to fish and they will eat for a lifetime”?
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is applying the idea in their Walk+Bike Jump Start program by training teachers in bike safety curriculum and giving schools a fleet of bikes to use for a full year. What makes this new program even more interesting though, is that the equipment for the program is being purchased with private donations instead of the state and federal grants the BTA usually relies on.
Although the pilot program in Gresham doesn’t start for a few months, planning is already under way.
LeeAnne Fergason, Education Programs Manager for the BTA, is working with the school district to find space for their bike fleet. She’s also enlisting volunteers to design and build a trailer to carry bikes and tools.
For those classes, the BTA provides a fleet of bikes, helmets, and instructors who teach bike safety skills to students and teachers. Once the training sessions are complete, the instructors and the bikes leave.
With the Walk+Bike Jump Start program, students and teachers will receive full curriculum training from the BTA and the schools get access to a fleet of bikes, helmets, and tools (plus a trailer to carry it all) for a full school year. In exchange, teachers who have received instructional training commit to running bike safety classes throughout the school year. As the year progresses, the BTA will help the schools find ways to fund their own bike fleet to use after the first year is through.
Stephanie Noll, the BTA’s Programs Director, says funding for the Jump Start program differs from their traditional training programs as well (see the update below for more information on the program’s funding):
“Most of our current teacher training opportunities are funded through ODOT Bike Safety funds or Safe Routes to School funds that schools and school districts have received through the state. We are relying on private donation funding to support the initial start-up costs of the Jump Start program.”
Launching the program with private funds may be a smart idea at a time when ODOT, faces an unprecedented budget crisis and federal funds are in serious jeopardy.
To get the program started in Gresham, the BTA is partnering with Juan Young Trust, Intel, Sugar Wheel Works, Wheelz, and the students, teachers, and staff at Dexter McCarty and Clear Creek Middle Schools.
Fergason expects that bikes, helmets, and tools for the pilot program will be purchased and assembled by August. Training of teachers and students in Gresham will begin in September at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.
If you want to know more about the BTA’s programs or sign up to help with Jump Start in Gresham, you can contact LeeAnne Fergason at leeanne [at] btaoregon [dot] org.
UPDATE: Fergason contacted me this morning to clarify that the staff time and teacher training for Jump Start will still be funded by a grant from ODOT. Private funds are being used to purchase equipment (bikes, helmets, tools, and trailer).