Columbia middle schoolers learn bike safety on day off

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools gave students the day off Monday for a teacher work day, giving one group of children a chance to learn about bike safety.

PedNet, an active transportation educational program in Columbia, held a Bike Pro class for students at West Middle School.

Abby St. George, a program coordinator, said the class taught students general safety and information on safe biking. 

"They're learning bike handling skills, rules of the road, obviously these kids are 12 and haven't learned car education, so we teach them what the signs mean and what the lines on the road mean," St. George said. 

Instructors converted a parking lot into an obstacle course with cones and other objects to simulate riding through the community. 

The program also taught the children how to correctly maintain and repair their bikes. 

St. George said it's important for children to know how to ride safely and legally and believes Columbia is a relatively safe place.

"We have a community that's pretty good at biking," St. George said. "We've got plenty of bike lanes and bike trails for them to get on and so I think there's a wide opportunity for kids to get out and be active."

15 children registered for Monday's class. St. George said this is more than normal, but she isn't surprised by the increase.

"The bicycling culture is growing," St. George said. "We have so many more trails that are being built and I think that parents are realizing that getting kids out on bikes and getting them active is a great way to know their community."

St. George said she credits online registration, rather than hard copy registration, for a bigger group. She said the next class will be held in the spring.