Junior high schoolers giddy up at bike rodeo

May 2, 2019

MATTAPOISETT — Old Rochester Regional Junior High School students rode outside their school on bright green bikes, wearing both helmets and smiles at a bike rodeo on May 2. The  event is part of a new bike safety curriculum at the school, and represents a community collaboration.

Massachusetts bike safety program, Safe Routes to School, and the state Department of Transportation set up a course for ORRJHS students to maneuver around cones and bike around chalk-drawn boundaries. 

Students learned how to correctly put on their helmets, stop and start biking without toppling over, make hand signals, and how to check for cars behind them while biking.

Executive Director of MassBike, Galen Mook, said that while the program doesn't encourage students to bike on major roads, he hopes the lesson can help students with safety should they ride somewhere busy.

"We're fully aware of the reality that some, if not most of these students are ready to ride on the roads, in their neighborhoods, and to their downtowns," said Mook, "They haven't had RMV training, they don't know the rules of the road yet. We're giving them the very basic tips they should be thinking about if they are going to be sharing the roads."

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, the Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee and Bikes Not Bombs, a non-profit that collects bike parts and repurposes bicycles for social change, in the Boston area and abroad, donated fifty bikes to the school.  

The bikes were almost used as scrap metal but were reassembled and refurbished by students from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and sent to ORRJHS. 

GH Dunn Insurance provided bike helmets and Arabella Insurance and Ocean Spray paid for the bike safety program.

ORRJHS seventh grade student Alyssa Viera said she was happy that the community was teaching her peers how to ride safely.

“I think it’s really cool that the people are donating these bikes to us and that they have the time to let us kids figure out how to ride them and be safe on the road,” said Viera.

ORR Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Elise Frangos, said the rodeo is a part of the school’s bike safety curriculum.

Students learned about riding bikes before they participated in the rodeo. This is the first year of the program. Students will have a second day to demonstrate their bike skills on May 3. 

“I’m very excited about this,” said Frangos, “I think you will see happy faces on the part of kids as they go through their drills.”

Frangos plans on bringing the bike safety lessons to ninth and tenth graders in a few weeks.