DRYDEN — Dryden Middle School students are invited to ride their bikes to school on Tuesday and Thursday in honor of National Ride Your Bike Month, a teacher said.
The program, organized by physical education teacher Janine Bennett, promotes physical activity as a form of treatment for common conditions — including anxiety, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — instead of using medication to cope, Bennett said.
“We received a grant from Riding for Focus three years ago to get kids to outride ADHD,” Bennett said. “The premise is, not only does it help kids with ADHD, anxiety and depression, but exercise has a positive effect in helping them cope.”
As part of the grant, educators are given a curriculum to teach students about bike safety, protective gear, hand signals and potential road dangers, Bennett said.
With the curriculum comes 25 bikes and 25 helmets that students can use.
But that still leaves some students without bikes and Bennett wants to raise money for next year’s program so all students can take part, she said.
Still, she expects up to 50 students will ride to school.
“We’re doing a hybrid version now where kids come to school two days a week; on Tuesday and Thursday,” Bennett said. “We picked two middle days that all the kids would go and are coming on both days so all kids have the opportunity to ride their bike to school.”
On both days, state police, Tompkins County sheriff’s deputies and Dryden police will be at high-traffic intersections to direct traffic, Bennett said.
Students are encouraged to ride the Jim Schug and Dryden Rail Trails into the village before taking main roads to the school.
“Parents are uncomfortable, they’re worried about the roads and the drivers not expecting them,” Bennett said. “We want to see comfort levels rise and parents be more supportive and for drivers to gain heightened awareness that our kids are out there now and we will start to look for them.”
“Drivers need education — if a driver or a vehicle is passing on the road, the bikers have the same right of way,” said Tompkins County sheriff’s Lt. Kyle Koskinen. “The biggest thing is we are able to provide deputies on bikes in proper equipment so students can see that and if they have questions, they can speak to trained bike patrol deputies.”
Deputies Zachary Messmer and Mark Montesano will ride with students on their way to school on the trails and roadways, Koskinen said.