Family Bike Workshops and Coleen Kelly, Awesome SRTS Champion!
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Spring Family Bike Workshop Series Kicks Off in Mark West School District!

What IS a Family Bike Workshop anyway, and why should you  consider attending one?

On Saturday, April 25th, 8 parents and 10 children, the majority from the Mark West Union School District, joined Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition Bicycling instructors at our first Family Bicycle Workshop of 2015, and a grand, bike-educational time was had by all. Feedback from participants in our workshops has been overwhelmingly positive since we launched our first workshop back in April of 2014, with nearly 100% of participants rating the workshop a 5 out of 5. Responses to evaluation surveys include:

“Totally Awesome!  I loved it – it helped my daughter grow!”
“It was very useful and helpful to have the opportunity to practice hand signals, look over your left shoulder while riding, and to learn to avoid the Door Zone.”  
"“There were so many helpful tips on the group ride! I didn’t know how far to be in the road for turns – now I do!”

But what exactly happens in a Family Bicycling Workshop, and why should you share information about our workshops with your school community and/or every family with children that you know? Read on to find out...

Workshops begin at 10am. As participants arrive, they are greeted by our League of American Bicyclist Certified instructors, who sign them in and check their bicycles to make sure their tires have air and nothing major is amiss. The workshop begins with introductions and each family sharing what type of bicycle riding they do (or would like to do), and whether their children currently ride their bicycles to school. Once we've gotten to know each other a bit, our instructors spend a few minutes sharing important pre-riding information - helmet fit, bike fit, and bicycle safety inspections. 

After wrapping up the discussion/pre-riding tips, we begin the blacktop drills portion of the workshop. We encourage both parents and children to take part in our drills, which include  driveway awareness, starting and stopping efficiently, one hand riding and signaling, scanning, and the "Door Zone." We then move onto intersection drills where we teach about safe turning procedures and right of way. The blacktop drills portion is also an opportunity for parents to ask questions, guide their children alongside our instructors, and observe how well their children can handle themselves in a variety of scenarios.

Once we complete our Blacktop Drill portion, we're ready to go on an instructional neighborhood ride! A one to two mile ride route is planned in advance to assure that families will experience as much variety as possible and be able to put into practice on the roadways everything we practiced in our drills. We practice lane and intersection positioning, right turns, left turns, good communication techniques, following the rules of the road, and more. Instructors leap-frog through intersections so that no intersection is unattended and instructors monitor participants to check or issues and accommodate pace. Parents again get to observe their children in action, with the assistance and guidance of instructors who are both showing and telling kids and parents how to ride safely on the road. The ride wraps up at 12:30pm, and participants return to the blacktop, fill out surveys in exchange for a free blinky light, and head home as more knowledgeable, skillful, and confident cyclists.

The most gratifying thing we have discovered is that the vast majority of parents indicate that they intend to ride with their children more often after attending the workshop. Whether the parent is an experienced cyclists in a full racing kit, or a novice cyclist who hasn't been on a bike since they were a child - the Family Bicycle Workshops are a unique opportunity to practice with and guide our children in an instructional, real-world environment. And they are a lot of fun and a great family activity to boot!

Family Bicycling Workshops are FREE, and take place once a month in different locations in Sonoma County. Currently, workshops are scheduled for the months of May-July, but we plan to add additional workshops to the schedule for August-October. Pre-registration is required, and families must bring their own working bicycles and helmets. For information on dates & locations, and/or to register for an upcoming workshop, please visit our Family Bicycle Workshop page on the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition website. 


Coleen Kelly, Teacher at JX Wilson Elementary

Coleen Kelley, 6th grade teacher at JX Wilson Elementary in Santa Rosa, is fondly known to the JX students as the “Walk and Roll Lady”. Coleen has been a teacher at JX for the last 4 years and she has been leading JX Wilson's Walking School Bus since it launched several years ago. The Walking School Bus meets in front of the CVS on W. 3rd Street every Walk/Roll Day. In the fall and winter, JX Wilson holds monthly walk/roll days and in the spring, they implement  weekly "Footloose Fridays," in which students are encouraged to walk or roll to school and are rewarded for doing so. Coleen embraces the Walking School Bus and really advocates to her students and families to join it. “When they walk together, they’re happy!” she says. She loves that students can start their day in a healthy way while practicing safe walking habits at the same time. She gets concerned when she hears about Sonoma County students being hit while in crosswalks, and she sees the Walking School Bus as an opportunity to teach students how to be safe. Coleen says that she grew up in a low-income family and no one really taught her how to make healthy lifestyle choices; she would like her students to begin making those choices now. She sees walking and rolling to school as a natural fit and an “investment in the bigger picture”. Coleen has been a strong champion of the Walk/Roll program at JX Wilson and she empowers her students to lead a more healthy life by participating in the Walking School Bus!
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Our mailing address is:
PO Box 3088, Santa Rosa, CA 95402-3088

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