Let’s Go SPS
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Summary: The Let’s Go Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety program will teach bicycling and walking safety skills to about 10,000 students this school year.
SPS, SDOT, and Cascade Bicycle Club Resume Nation’s Largest Bicycling Education Program
Cascade Bicycle Club delivered its first trailer of bicycles to Louisa Boren STEM K-8 in West Seattle on November 9, as the nation’s largest public-school bicycling and walking safety curriculum resumed in-person lessons this month.
Let’s Go by the Numbers
Within three years, 25,000 Seattle students annually will learn how to safely ride a bike in the Let’s Go elementary school and Let’s Go Further middle school curriculums.
Seattle Department of Transportation is providing $2.1 million in funding to Seattle Public Schools for a five-year contract with Cascade Bicycle Club to supply bikes and learning materials for the Let’s Go curriculums.
After a 19-month pause due to COVID-19, the Let’s Go Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety program is set to teach bicycling and walking safety skills to about 10,000 elementary and middle school students during this academic year – and expand each year to reach up to 25,000 students by the 2024-25 academic year. Cascade trains physical education teachers to deliver the curriculum and provides each school with a fleet of 30 bikes, helmets, and instructional materials. Beacon Hill, Maple, Thornton Creek and Decatur elementary schools also received a set of bikes.
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has renewed a five-year-contract with Cascade Bicycle Club to provide the bikes, helmets, and Let’s Go teaching materials thanks to $2.1 million in funding from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
“The resumption of Let’s Go is a huge morale boost. As a cycling educator and parent of two SPS students, getting Let’s Go back to school is an important milestone in our region’s response to the pandemic,” says Stephen Rowley, Cascade’s education director. “Learning to ride a bike and cross the street safely is a formative experience in a child’s life. We are overjoyed to be resuming this incredibly popular program at a time when interest in bicycling and outdoor activity is booming.”
In addition to the physical fundamentals of helmet safety, balancing, steering, pedaling, and stopping, Let’s Go teaches kids the rules of safe and courteous riding along with skills to cross a street at intersections. Let’s Go provides special training for children with disabilities by partnering with the Outdoors for All Foundation, a nonprofit that offers adaptive cycles with three or four wheels as well as hand-crank cycles for those with limited or no leg movement.
“Along with reading, writing, math and science, our mission is to provide students with the content knowledge that develops active lifestyles and provides skills that lead to a lifetime of health and happiness. We are educating the whole child,” said Lori Dunn, manager of physical education and health literacy for SPS. “Let’s Go is especially impactful for students who would not otherwise have access to bicycles. It’s an equity initiative as well as foundational education and a life skills program.”
SDOT’s investment in safety education is part of a much larger strategy to keep families safe as they travel to school. SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program built about 30 road safety improvements near schools in 2020 and 2021, in addition to the major safety investments that come with larger paving projects like new and upgraded bike routes to Louisa Boren STEM K-8 School built this year as part of the Delridge paving project. SDOT also offers grants up to $1000 for schools, PTAs and community groups to support and encourage kids to walk and bike to school, and recently expanded the ORCA Opportunity program to provide free ORCA cards to all Seattle public middle and high school students.
“We know that kids who walk, bike, and bus become adults who walk, bike, and bus,” said Sam Zimbabwe, Seattle Department of Transportation director. “By teaching school children the joys and health benefits of safe walking and biking, we are teaching our youngsters to make active transportation a lifelong passion that reduces our city’s carbon footprint, cleans our air, and boosts mass transit use.”