2023 Middle School Street Smarts Bike Safety

The 2023 Street Smarts program will include all 6th graders at Steamboat Springs Middle School and Sleeping Giant School, and all 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students at Hayden Middle School.

This spring, Routt County Riders, Steamboat Springs Middle School, Hayden Middle School, Sleeping Giant School, The Cycle Effect, Routt County Public Health, SBT GRVL and Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare will collaborate to reach nearly 300 Routt County middle school students with bike safety and education workshops during the month of May. This second year of the “Street Smarts” program will emphasize the importance of equipment and helmet checks, following the rules of the road, interpreting signage, and safely commuting on a bike from the school through local neighborhoods surrounding each participating school. 

“A concern expressed by almost every emergency department physician at our local hospital is the safety of youth traveling on bicycles throughout town,” says Julie McFadden, Trauma Services Manager at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “By providing engaging and impactful education, RCR is helping our youth understand the rules of the road and of wearing their helmets when on their bicycle.”

In the spring of 2022, Routt County Riders launched the Street Smarts for 6th Grade bike safety program during the school day (during encore class to ensure 100% participation) alongside partners at Steamboat Springs Middle School. The program grew out of a strong community desire to see safer bike commuting practices demonstrated by middle school (and older) students. In May 2022, all 159 SSMS 6th graders were given the opportunity to ride bikes around downtown Steamboat in small groups led by volunteers, teachers, and Community Safety Officers, participating in a scenario-based learning experience covering the following topics in depth: Check Your Gear, Follow the Rules of the Road, Know Your E-Bike, See the Signs, and Respect the Trail Triangle. Students without riding skills were able to participate in a Learn-to-Ride curriculum facilitated by SBT GRVL staff and volunteers. “The high point for me was seeing our Learn-to-Ride participants connect the dots and make these strides towards building confidence,” says Greer Van Dyck, SBT GRVL Director of Community Relations. “It was so inspiring to see them work through challenges and fears.”

This May, the key partners noted above will coordinate curriculum to be presented on bikes by teams of facilitators alongside small ‘pods’ of students, many of whom will bring their own bike and helmet to school for session days. The program will expand beyond Steamboat Springs Middle School to include Hayden and Sleeping Giant Schools. The Cycle Effect and Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare will be on-site during much of the program to outfit students lacking the proper equipment with loaner gear for their session and perform safety checks. Donated helmets are being provided in part by Children’s Hospital Colorado. “In addition to providing essential safety skills for kids already riding bikes to school and around town, this program opens doors to kids who have not had an opportunity to ride before,” says Helen Beall, Routt Program Manager for The Cycle Effect. “By providing coaching, helmets, and the possibility of equipment to keep through Bike Match, we can be confident that kids who were not riding before this program will be riding bikes afterward.”

Eventually, it is the aim of partners to both grow and improve this program throughout all of Routt County, and also to ensure that each and every middle school-aged student in the Steamboat vicinity has access to a bike. It is expected that RCR and partners can continue to work together with schools and the RCR Bike Match program to accomplish this goal in the future. If you have a gently used kids bike you would consider donating to the program, or if you or your family are in need of a bike yourselves, contact Matthew Rochon, RCR Community Outreach Program Manager, at matthew@routtcountyriders.org. For all other program inquiries, or to volunteer for Street Smarts, please contact laraine@routtcountyriders.org or sign up directly here.