TAMPA — Bearss Avenue is busy, especially during rush hour — which is when the students at Buchanan Middle School are trying to make it to class. Every day, at least 20 children ride their bikes to Buchanan, so the school is working with Hillsborough County to make sure the kids make it safely.
On May 7, Buchanan, located at 1001 W. Bearss Ave., will host Bike to School Day to celebrate the end of a series of sessions where the students learned all about bike safety. Physical Education teacher Emily Malcolm helped coordinate the program that included three days of bicycle safety training. The lessons will conclude on May 1 after a delay due to weather-related issues.
Malcolm said the lessons are treated as a “pre-driving” type of course, teaching the kids to ride bikes, which involves similar issues to driving a car.
“Riding a bike is just like driving a car,” Malcolm said. “The kids learn to be responsible. They have to drive cars like they ride their bikes. We teach how to signal, to let the drivers around them know what they are doing. They learn bike skills like how to stop, turn, and other skills.”
They are also learning how to take care of their bikes for safety purposes, including how to decide if their bikes are the right size.
Malcolm said one of the keys to the program is to make it fun. They play games where they can use the lessons they have been learning during the course.
On Bike to School Day, there will be messages on the school’s televised morning announcements showing safety videos with bike safety messages. Some are funny, but others are serious.
Flyers are also being sent home to parents who drop their kids off at school in the morning that include safety information about riding a bike to school. Also, on the corner of Bearss Avenue and North Boulevard, McDonald’s coupons will be awarded to kids who properly walk or ride in the crosswalks.
“We just want it to be safe,” Malcolm said. “The kids are having fun learning about bicycle safety and we don’t want to see anything bad happen. It gets busy out there.”