Posts Tagged ‘Make 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.

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“Make Safe” Enters the World of the Blog

April 27, 2013

Something you should know.  I’m a personal injury attorney practicing in Vancouver, Washington.  If you were not completely put off by this, you should know that I’m also a husband to my amazing wife, Melissa, and a proud father to our three children.  Together, Melissa and I have chosen to make Vancouver our home as we try to raise our children in this crazy mixed-up world that is so different from the world in which we were raised.

Professionally, I’ve devoted my legal practice to getting fair compensation for clients injured by the carelessness of others.  I do my best to keep up-to-date on important legislation that could affect the rights of my past, present, and future clients–and my own friends and family.  In this professional role I have a unique bird’s-eye perspective of the common “rule violations” that cause injury and harm in our communities.  For the past few years I have often thought about writing a blog–I love to write; but, what interesting material could I bring to an internet already filled with blogs read by nobody but their author?  Then I knew.

Who knows how this will evolve?  I sure don’t.  But, in the infancy of Make Safe, I plan to write about issues and problems to make our  streets, our schools, our public spaces, and even our homes safer for our children.  I’ll write generally (no names or specifics) about issues presented by my own clients.  I’ll write about important legislation that will endanger us; or make our world safer.  I’ll write about important and far-reaching Washington  Supreme Court and Court of Appeals cases that change the “rules” of the game we all play.  Using these issue generators, I’ll try to move us all toward action and toward a safer community.  I’ll do my part to “Make Safe” Vancouver and urge you to do so as well.

I hope for this blog to be a place to convey information and perspective.  I hope it will be a sounding board from which I can be heard not only in our community, but in yours, and theirs.  I hope for it to be a place for you to look, search, and learn about what you can do to make our community a safer place to raise our children.

As I begin to “Make Safe” our community I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions.  Ask questions.  Present issues.  Reply.  I’m only one guy.  My network is only so big.  There are countless numbers of you.  Your networks literally cover the globe.  I encourage you to share Make Safe with your own networks–let’s see how far we can reach.  I look forward to taking this journey with you.


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