Students in the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) Club Live Program at seven middle schools across Sacramento County will lead activities designed to increase bicycle and pedestrian safety this school year. The program is being funded by a new $189,000 grant that has been awarded to the SCOE Prevention and Early Intervention Department by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
“Everyone deserves a safe environment to travel, regardless of how people get to places,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “The safety of people walking and biking on our roads is a high priority. Education plays a pivotal role in creating a strong road safety culture that prioritizes traffic safety, especially for our most vulnerable road users.”
SCOE has been selected as a recipient of the grant every year since 2014, and it looks forward to continuing the important countywide project. The goal is to help middle school youth develop attitudes and habits that promote lifelong traffic safety values, building a foundation that helps students make safe decisions when they become teen drivers. SCOE, working with Safety Center Incorporated and other community partners, will use the grant in its ongoing efforts with the California OTS to increase bicycle helmet compliance for youth (ages 5 to 18). Funding for the California OTS grant comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and runs through September 2024.
Students will complete a “photovoice” project (researching and representing their findings with photographs) and a pre- and post-observational study, identify safety concerns in their school community, and advocate for changes to be made. They will also educate their peers and families about bicycle and pedestrian safety and helmet use through school-based activities, contests, public service announcements, social media posts, newsletters, and the distribution of safety equipment.
SCOE’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program is a comprehensive safety program that teaches valuable skills for all types of road users. It includes classroom education, community-based presentations and workshops, plus the distribution and proper fitting of bicycle helmets for students and families in need. Bike “rodeos” and family events at Safety Center in Sacramento will encourage safe riding skills. Walking field trips and on-foot safety training will also be conducted, providing an opportunity for students to practice safe habits with adult supervision.
SCOE and its partners have seen positive results from the safety education efforts. Last school year, classroom presentations reached more than 600 students at the seven participating schools. The program distributed more than 240 helmets at schools and community events, and more than 300 students participated in on-foot safety training. Surveys demonstrated that the number of students wearing bicycle helmets at school sites increased, as did safe walking practices.