In 2023 a group consisting of the Warner Police Department (managers of the Rosa Valpey Trust Fund), Central NH Bicycle Coalition, the Bike-Walk Alliance of NH, S&W Sports, Cyr Lumber and the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail donated a fleet of bicycles and related gear to the Kearsarge Regional School District so the PE teachers in the four elementary schools could teach all the kids in Kindergarten and first grade how to ride bikes. The fleet of bikes rotate from one school to the next. The result is every child in the seven town district will be taught how to ride in school.
In five weeks, with two classes per week, kids went from never having been on a bike to riding on a rail trail. See how they started on balance bikes – bikes with no pedals! – and then progress to riding with pedals. No training wheels involved.
We believe kids all learning to ride together with everyone using the same equipment creates a positive first introduction to cycling. We hope that fosters a desire to do more biking once the unit completes. The kids were having an absolute blast on this day and the teachers and staff supervising reported the unit had been very well received by everyone.
Area families looking for bicycles can take advantage of the annual spring bike swap sponsored by Central NH Bicycle Coalition every May – the weekend after Mothers Day. There are also multiple bike shops in Concord (S&W Sports, Trek) and many across the state.
Concord School District is next.
The Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail and Central NH Bicycle Coalition are working to bring this learn to ride program to the Concord School District. Like Kearsarge, the Concord School District has 4 elementary schools which can share a fleet of bikes. This keeps the bikes in use during more of the school year. We anticipate this will roll out in Concord in 2024.
As a rail trail organization we strive to provide safe and convenient places to become more comfortable riding a bike. We hope to see many young riders and their families on the trail in the years ahead.
We should stress that at the very beginning of the process we asked the school districts if this was something they were interested in pursuing. We worked closely with the districts in a supporting role to deliver a solution that met their needs. Sincere thanks to the folks in the districts for their time and encouragement.