For the first time, a bike program is getting students out into area neighborhoods to learn the routes and skills needed to bike safely. The event is hosted by the La Crosse health department Safe Route to School program. Fox 25/48’s Jessica Bringe has details.

Health educator Virginia Loher is kicking off the summer biking season with a new way of teaching kids bike safety. Through the Safe Route to School program, Loher is hosting the first ever bike rendezvous event to get young students comfortable on bikes.

Loher: “This event actually takes them out into the neighborhood around their school and gives them a chance to practice their skills in a real situation.”

Loher says the federally funded Safe Route to School program is for kindergarten through eighth grade. She says she encourages children to bring a parents so that parents can learn safe strategies for their families to bike and keep an active lifestyle, but to do so safely.

Loher: “It gives kids a chance to get on their bike and practice the skills under the direction of someone who knows how to teach kids how to ride. It also engages the parents, which is important because then parents can teach the kids what they should and shouldn’t be doing in terms of riding bikes around their neighborhood.”

Certified biking instructor Matthew Christen will be teaching kids skills such as scanning for traffic, turn signaling and following the rules of the road.

Christen: “You get youth started off early in a way that can help them build their skills and it’s a good way to leverage them into a healthy adult life.”

Christen says the instructors will help make it easier for kids and their families to navigate area neighborhood routes with confidence.

Christen: “Recognizing that there are a lot of good opportunities for fun recreation, fitness and saving some money, and to improve your confidence in getting out on a bicycle.”

The bike series kick off was tonight but Loher says eight other events are planned in school neighborhoods around the West Salem and Holmen areas. Loher says the dates of those events are still being decided.