Posts Tagged ‘be safe’

Bike Clark County Needs Your Help

May 1, 2014

Bike Clark CountyEric GiacchinoSeveral months ago, I wrote about Bike Clark County–a local non-profit dedicated to “giving kids the skills to safely and responsibly use their bike as an affordable and eco friendly mode of transportation.”  Since writing that historic (I’m always one for the dramatic) post, I have had the opportunity to meet with Bike Clark County President, Eric Giacchino, and other Bike Clark County volunteers on several occasions. Each time, I have been more and more impressed with the organization and what it stands for.  Bike Clark County continues to grow and spread cycling safety to the next generation of riders. It continues to advocate for bicycle safety in our communities.

This summer, Bike Clark County needs your help.

One of Bike Clark County’s annual projects is the Safe Routes to School – Bicycle Safety Programs. These run May 19 through June 17.  Bike Clark County needs volunteers to work with local schools and teachers to provide bicycle handling and safety skills to middle school students in Clark County. The Safe Routes to School program is a national program that was developed by the League of American Bicyclists and is designed to help develop knowledge and expertise in bicycling through their Traffic Skills 101 program.

Vancouver and Evergreen School Districts have been teaching the Safe Routes to School curriculum for over 10 years. The flagship programs are taught at Mcloughlin Middle School and Wy’east Middle School. Discovery Middle School started running the program in 2013. There is now an after school version of the program taught by Bike Clark County volunteers at Hough Elementary School.

The program is focused on teaching basic bicycle safety checks, helmet fitting and proper attire, basic bicycle handling skills, and rules of the road and proper hand signals. The course has both classroom instructional and riding components. The riding portions start in a “traffic free” environment, such as on-campus and parking lot riding.  After basic skills and traffic laws are mastered, an on-road component is initiated.

So where do you come in?

Safe RoutesVolunteers are most needed during the helmet fitting and riding phases, in particular for the on-road components. The school teachers handle the majority of the instruction and discipline, so Bike Clark County volunteers get to focus on encouraging kids, providing additional oversight, minor bicycle maintenance assistance, and helping guide on-street rides.  We really encourage parents of students in each school to get involved and volunteer. The rapport parents have with students is a positive asset. The key dates for this year’s programs are from May 19-June 17th. Find out more on the Bike Clark County Calendar.

What does it take to volunteer?

To volunteer you will need to:

  1. Complete a Volunteer Application form for each of the school districts you plan to help out with. You can pick up the forms at any school in the district or print out on line.  Forms are dropped off at any school in the district. For Evergreen School District, which covers Wy’east Middle School, click here. For Vancouver School District, which covers Discovery, Hough and Mcloughlin Schools, click here.
  2. Have a safe and functional bicycle and helmet. If you need to have your bicycle checked over first or if you need to borrow one from Bike Clark County, contact us a few weeks in advance of the programs or come to one of our bike repair days.
  3. The Rules of the Road that apply to cars also apply to bicycles. Ensure that you are aware and use safe riding techniques in your own riding to be a good example to the students. As we ride on neighborhood streets, volunteer roles are to help ensure that kids are riding safely, maintaining safe following distances, using hand signals, and following rules of the roads. At intersections, volunteers help ensure kids stop at stop signs, signal and check for traffic, and make safe decisions about when to ride across. We don’t stop traffic for the kids, we want them to learn how to ride in a real-world environment.
  4. Have a positive and encouraging attitude! The teachers do the discipline and maintain classroom order, so our job is to help kids have a fun riding experience.
  5. Mechanical skills are a bonus. Prior to the start of the programs, Bike Clark County Volunteer mechanics give every bicycle a tune up and safety check. To participate – see our calendar update for information. At the start of every class we do a basic “ABC” Safety check to make sure bikes are in adjustment and ready to roll. Beyond that, it is helpful if you know how to fix a flat or adjust a derailleur when we are out on the road – but don’t worry – there is always at least one volunteer with some mechanical skills present.
  6. For the truly committed volunteer, you can get certified as an instructor through the League of American Bicyclists. While not required to help with these programs, it’s a great course packed with good information.  There may be opportunities in our area soon.  For more information and background click here.

Bike Clark County is made up entirely of volunteers. If you’re looking for a way to get involved, this would be a great opportunity.

I’m coming Kimberly…

March 31, 2014

ImageI’m on an airplane to Salt Lake City. I can’t post this until I land, but, wanted to write when my feelings and thoughts were still raw and fresh.

I left my home in Vancouver, Washington 30 minutes ago. It’s been a long morning. I woke up to a text message from Jory, my brother-in-law. That was unusual and honestly alarming. In the few minutes it took to wake up, my initial fears were confirmed. In brief and clearly anxious words he wrote:

<em>Kimberly and I were in a really bad car accident this morning. They are taking Kimberly to the SICU, she had a broken leg and a crushed spleen, a liver laceration and a bruised kidney. Can you please try and get a hold of your parents?</em>

You see, my parents are in South Africa picking up my other sister who just finished two-and-a-half years as a volunteer in the Peace Corps. After several attempts, I finally reached them. They had so many questions; the same questions I had. But I had no answers. The only information I had was in the text message above. In my rush to be useful, to do something despite the miles between us, I didn’t even think to find out more before alerting my family. I needed to find out more.

After several phone calls to family members and Salt Lake hospitals, I finally learned that after dropping off their two children (thank goodness), my sister and brother-in-law were driving to work together when suddenly, and without warning, they were T-boned by a large tractor trailer carrying a heavy load of gravel. The truck driver ran a red light and struck their car on the passenger side–my sister’s side. The impact knocked my sister unconscious, and pinned her inside the mangled vehicle. It took 30 minutes for emergency responders to finally get her out of the vehicle. She was taken to the hospital as a “Trauma” patient. She doesn’t remember the collision. My brother-in-law was also taken to the hospital with less-threatening injuries.

I eventually relayed the information to my family in South Africa and have kept them as updated as thousands of miles permits. I know not being here is hard for them. All I can do is communicate and provide information.

Last update I received before boarding the plane was that Kimberly’s injuries were “not life threatening” but that she was still in SICU, for observation and pending a decision on whether to remove her crushed spleen, or to simply “tie it off.” I suppose I’ll know one way or another before too long.

I deal with car crashes every day. I talk daily to victims of car crashes, who suffer physical injuries, and emotional damage in car crashes just like the one that put my sister in the intensive care unit of a hospital. No amount of familiarity or experience can prepare someone for getting “that call.” It’s different when the victim is a close loved one. These things never happen at “convenient” times. To the contrary, they always seem to happen at the worst times–when people are the most vulnerable.

Please, be careful. Please pay attention. Please don’t ignore or take lightly the safety rules that are designed to keep us all safe. Please be vigilant and aware of your surroundings and of other vehicles on the roadway. It only takes a moment of carelessness to forever change the lives of so many people.

Love you sister friend. I’ll see you soon.


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