October 19, 2021

On the path to healthier habits

Dryden students bike to school as part of effort to promote exercise

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Jeffrey Barlow and his son, Hunter, start pedaling home Tuesday after school. Hunter and his dad biked 3 miles to school and back for National Ride Your Bike Month.

DRYDEN — The lesson for Dani Alshoffe on Tuesday started miles before he got to school. He saw the environment around him; he learned the physics behind judging traffic patterns; he learned a few coping skills — although he may not have been aware of that.

Dani, a sixth-grader, was one of nine Dryden Middle School students who rode their bikes to school Tuesday in honor of National Ride Your Bike Month, and 19 more will pedal their way to class again on Thursday.

The program, organized by physical education teacher Janine Bennett, promotes exercise in place of medication for common conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,depression and anxiety,Bennett said.

Biking safety tips

• Obey traffic signals, stop at intersections and look both ways.
• Anyone age 14 and younger must wear a helmet.
• Always ride with traffic, never against traffic.
• Stay alert at all times.
• Look before turning.
• Wear reflective or bright clothing, especially at night.
• If you’re riding a bike at night, it must have a front white light and a rear red reflector.
• Maintain your bike and make sure it’s in good working order before leaving home.

— SOURCE: State police, Troop C

The school received a grant from the Outride Foundation’s Riding for Focus program three years ago to train educators along with a curriculum to teach students about bike safety, protective gear, hand signals and potential road dangers, Bennett said.

“What the foundation is trying to provide is that we can prescribe exercise instead of medications,” Bennett said. “It’s what we’ve heard growing up our whole lives — there are so many benefits of exercise, not only for the physical being but your emotional wellbeing.”

Jeffrey Barlow rode with his son 3 miles to school and back. It reminded him of when he was an eighth-grader, like Hunter.

“We are avid bikers, so to get kids on their bikes is great,” Jeffrey Barlow said. “I find it sad that kids nowadays don’t seem to get out on a bike anymore. When I was a kid, I was gone all the time and my parents just asked me to be back in time for dinner. Now, you have to kick them out of the house to go do something. At least with riding a bike it gives them something to do.”

Through the Riding for Focus program, the school provides 25 bikes and helmets that students can use through the physical education curriculum.

Dani Alshoffe, a sixth-grader, said he enjoyed seeing nature as he rode to school.

“Seeing nature and actually getting some breeze in your face, and having some fun on a bike, is something that I think a lot of people wish they didn’t miss out on,” he said.

Dani said his dad biked with him Tuesday morning to check out the route.

“It’s safe,” Bennett said. “I know people are nervous about putting their kids out on the road, but we have all those areas covered and they learned the curriculum and they know how to handle traffic.”

For the bike to school events this week, school volunteers stood as crossing guards in heavier traffic areas, and state troopers parked at intersections near the school to remind drivers to abide by the school zone speed limit.

“We want to show how safe it is and how biking can be used for exercise and their well-being,” Bennett said. “It would be nice to see kids on their bikes, because they learn how to be in traffic and road-ready. That’s what we’re teaching them — to be safe and have fun.”