As part of the statewide Safe Route to School program, in July 2012, the city received a grant of $450,000 from Caltrans to construct a concrete bicycle and pedestrian pathway between the northern end of the Siltanen Park softball field and Glenwood Drive, near the high school.
Part of that grant money stipulated that $15,000 be allotted to safety education purposes.
To that end, the Scotts Valley City Council voted Wednesday night to approve a $15,000, two-year agreement with Ecology Action's Bike Smart program to lead fourth and fifth grade students at Vine Hill Elementary in classroom and hands-on lesson on how to be safe while walking or riding on Scotts Valley's streets.
“We're very excited,” said Bike Smart Program Coordinator Elise Ehrheart.
Ehrheart said that the program would begin working with students in April with an assembly, followed by several one-hour classroom safety lessons, on-bike training, and finally, a Bicycle Rodeo event for the students to show off their new skills.
The classes, she said, would be taught by program staff, along with cycling club members to help the students — including those who've never rode a bicycle before.
“A lot of it is empowering kids to feel like they can ride a bike skillfully,” Ehrheart said. “The skills they learn in bike safety is applicable even if they’re walking or riding a scooter.”
The goal, she said, was to get children comfortable and familiar with situations they may find themselves in as cyclists or pedestrians in their community and neighborhoods.
“We do on-bike training in obstacle courses that represent real road conditions,” Ehrheart said. “We tailor the classes to reality of the school site.”
She said that the agreement between the city and Ecology Action would run through the end of the current school year, as well as the following one.
As for the original reason the grant was awarded, the pathway could be open and in operation by the end of the summer, said City Engineer Majid Yamin.
Currently, the city is awaiting approval for the project — which will cross a pair of creekbeds — from the California Department of Fish and Game.
“We have made an application to Fish and Game and we are waiting for them to accept our proposal,” Yamin said. “We'll know one way or the other hopefully by the end of March.”
The only difference to the architectural plans, Yamin said, was that the pathway be reinforced so as to accommodate heavy equipment that will eventually be used in the creation of Shugart Park.
For more information on the Bike Smart program, visit www.bikesmart.org.