Bronx School Encourages Safe Cycling in Wake of Student’s Death
- October 22, 2008 8:30 am - 1:00 pm
- P.S. 76, the Bennington School
900 Adee Av. (bet. Bronxwood & Radcliff Aves.)
Approximately 600 third, fourth, and fifth-grade students will participate in a bike rodeo with activities such as a helmet relay, puzzles, starting and stopping drills, and labeling bike parts. In addition, a new bike donated by Bike New York will be raffled to students who earn tickets by demonstrating safety knowledge and bike-handling skills. Students and teachers will be available for interviews about how the program has changed their outlook on bike safety.
The P.S. 76 community experienced a tragedy last year when fifth-grader Michael Needham Jr. was struck by a speeding car while biking outside the Allerton Library after school. He died on June 23 after 18 days in a coma.
Since then, a grassroots effort won the installation of a speed hump outside the library, the school’s principal, Louise Sedotto, has purchased bike helmets for all incoming students, and a new Bike Safety Committee has implemented Bike New York’s Bike Driver’s Ed curriculum. Programs leading up to the rodeo include a month of on-bike PE classes, a bike safety presentation for parents, and a Learn to Ride event for students who haven’t yet mastered two-wheeling (scheduled for Saturday, October 18). The school is using bicycles from Bike New York’s Bike Fleet–free of charge–to help make it possible for all of their students to join in the fun.
“We would like the public to know that out of the immense tragedy of a student’s death, we are moving forward with a positive message of safety and caution. We want our students to experience the joy of being outside riding their bikes, but doing so as safely as possible so we never experience a tragedy like this again,” said Dan Russo, a fourth-grade teacher at P.S. 76 and member of the school’s Bike Safety Committee.
“Biking is a healthy, safe, practical, and fun activity for New Yorkers of all ages,” said Bike New York’s Education Program director, Rich Conroy. “And yet, riders need to know more than just how to balance and pedal before taking to the streets. Bike New York is pleased to be helping P.S. 76 set an example by teaching traffic skills to the school community. We’re also eager to help other schools follow suit and to make bike safety a standard part of every child’s education.”