Education Corner: Operation Firefly, Metro BEST & Safe Routes to School

Welcome to the Education Notebook, the first in a series of monthly segments from LACBC’s Education Department! I’m Colin Bogart, LACBC’s Education Director, and I’ve got big plans for this column! Some months I’ll give you updates on our education work and highlight safety tips, while during others I will discuss situations you might encounter while riding, review the law and how it affects your day to day riding, and maybe even share some history. It’s still early in the year, so I’d like to give you an update about current educational programming for 2019 – Operation Firefly, Metro BEST, and our LAUSD/LADOT partnership.

As regular newsletter subscribers know all too well, we’ve been running Operation Firefly bicycle light distributions since the time change on November 4 of last year. We set a goal of equipping 3,850 people with bicycle lights and safety information this winter, and I’m pleased to announce that we’re at roughly 80% of that goal as of today! We’ve got a few more weeks left for our program before the time changes again in March, and are confident we’ll get through that last 20%. Our goal has always been to provide lights to people who ride bikes as their main form of transportation, and our data shows that an average 75% of this season’s light recipients rely on their bikes to get around on a daily basis. We’re excited to be in the home stretch! If you can volunteer with Team Firefly to push us past our goal, we’d love for you to sign up here!

Team Firefly at Expo / Bundy with LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin

In other education news, LACBC is working with Active SGV, CICLE, People for Mobility Justice, and Estolano LeSar Advisors to provide free bike education classes under a program funded by Metro. Known as Bicycle Education and Safety Training (BEST), this program is intended for adults who are new to riding or have recently returned, and need to brush up on basic bike skills. The classes are short and are primarily conducted on-bike. The Metro BEST program is scheduled to continue through at least April 2020, and we’re proud to be partnered with such a great team. Currently, we’re offering classes in South Gate, Long Beach, and Agoura Hills. We’ve got future classes in South LA, Downtown LA, the northeast San Fernando Valley, and Lancaster/Palmdale in the works. Our upcoming classes are listed on our website here, so keep your eyes open for new dates and locations. We also offer one hour classroom-only sessions, perfect for private groups, bike shops, or company brown bag lunch presentations. If your community, group, or company is interested in hosting Metro BEST classes, contact me at colin(at)la-bike.org.

LACBC is also working closely with LADOT’s Safe Routes to School program and LAUSD on a program designed to train PE teachers to teach bicycle (and pedestrian) safety in middle schools during PE class. We’re big fans of this train the trainer model, as bicycle and pedestrian safety will be locally led, and become part of the school’s ongoing PE program. Teachers can spend far more time effectively instructing students on bike safety when it’s part of the curriculum and not just a one day or after school event. Partnering with our friends at Youth Educational Sports, Inc. (YES), we piloted the program last spring at Lawrence and Northridge Middle Schools in the northwest valley, both of which are planning to roll out the program on their own again this year. Vista Middle School in Van Nuys is currently running the program, and we have more schools lined up for future projects. The program currently equips two fleets of bikes in trailers which the schools borrow. We’re looking forward to the upcoming fall 2019 semester when LAUSD will expand the program to more schools, and bikes will be permanently provided to participating schools. The expanded version of the program is the result of an ATP grant application that LACBC co-authored with LAUSD and YES three years ago, and we’re extremely excited that we can now announce it to you. We’ll provide updates on this program as it progresses.

If you have questions you’d like addressed in this column, please feel free to reach out to me! Until next time, remember to ride on the right and use lights at night! – Colin

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