Kids Learn Street Safety on Strider Bikes at Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center
Last year, the City of Hammond, Louisiana bought eight Strider Bikes to use with its Safety City exhibit, which it operates in partnership with the Louisiana Children's Discovery Center. The exhibit teaches kids about street safety and how to travel and walk safely from their house to school or around the city. The center hosts field trips almost every day with between 40 and 100 kids ages 3 to 11. In just four months, more than 2,000 kids have ridden their 12” and 16” STRIDER models. Check out the photos of STRIDER Bikes in the Safety City photo gallery on their website.
Below is a Q&A with City of Hammond Grants Manager Charles Borchers IV, who discovered and purchased the Strider Bikes for the City, and Leon Philpot, Interim Executive Director of the Louisiana Children's Discovery Center.
How did you first learn about Strider Bikes?
Charles: The City received a Louisiana Safe Routes to School grant to educate our school-age children about pedestrian, bicycle, and traffic safety. We bought the Safety City exhibit as a teaching tool, but quickly discovered that the included plastic tricycles just weren't sturdy enough to accommodate the number and wide age range of kids that the exhibit was seeing. So I started searching for something to replace the original bikes and stumbled across Strider Bikes.
I’d never heard of balance bikes before, but realized that, with no pedals, the bikes would take up less space in the Safety City's already crowded trailer. I also appreciated that the bikes were made of metal, but still fairly lightweight, and easily to assemble. We initially ordered five of the 12” Sport model and we were impressed enough with the build quality that we bought another three of the 16” Sport model. All eight bikes fit in the trailer.
Why did you choose Strider?
Charles: As local government agency, we're practiced in soliciting competitive quotes and researching companies before making purchases. I spent a lot of time looking at other balance bikes, but kept coming back to Strider Bikes. I was impressed by all of the positive reviews, options available, and the overall reputation and philosophy of the company.
What do you like about the bikes?
Charles: We’ve been very happy with the quality of the bikes. They're easy to assemble and adjust, and I particularly like that smaller models have solid wheels so we don’t have to worry about inflating tires. We actually had a lot of fun putting them together. We figured if we could do it, anyone could. It probably took longer to get each bike out of its box than to assemble it.
The bikes' low maintenance is also a huge plus. The City is responsible for the Safety City's upkeep and we want everything to work all of the time. With the Strider Bikes, we are less concerned about things breaking. The bikes are just solid. With the original bikes, we spent a lot of time chasing down pieces, like popped-off pedals and seats.
How do you use the bikes in your Safety City exhibit?
Leon: The Safety City Exhibit is set up to simulate signs and visuals they see in downtown Hammond, so as the kids ride them around, they learn the meaning of street signs, traffic signals, pedestrian walks, and to respect the signs. Since the display uses Strider Bikes as vehicles, they also learn to respect bicycle laws, such as stopping at crosswalks, riding on the right side and to stay to the far right if a car is coming behind them.
How do you know using Strider Bikes in the Safety City exhibit is effective?
Leon: When they do their first lap, if they violate any rules, such as running a stop sign, we’ll stop them and make them go back. They have to stop and look both ways. We also have a stop light, which shows them what to do with each light color. Sometimes it is tough with the younger kids to understand the concepts, but they’re having fun. If they keep violating the rules, then next person gets to ride. Usually by the second or third lap, they get it.
What do the kids think of the Strider Bikes?
Charles: From everything that I’ve seen and heard, the kids just think that they’re the coolest thing—they really respond to them. Most haven’t seen a pedal-less bike before and—especially the little kids—are very curious. As soon as they get on one and realize that they can actually ride it, they love it. It’s a phenomenal product. I have to admit though: when I first heard about balance bikes, I thought that the idea sounded like a gimmick. But after you see a three-year-old hop on one and start riding it around, it just makes perfect sense.
Did you have any issues with kids going too fast?
Leon: The track is pretty small, so they don’t go too fast. Since there is a railroad crossing in downtown Hammond, we also have one as part of the exhibit. They have to stop there when the light is flashing and the arm comes down. Then they must wait until arm comes up and look both ways before moving on.
Charles: That was actually one of the problems that we had with the original bikes: kids going too fast and crashing into things—or us. Mostly it was us. Because the Strider Bikes are foot-powered, the kids can’t really get them going too fast. The bikes actually force them to walk through the exhibit and give instructors more time to educate them about safety.
What’s your overall impressive of the bikes?
Charles: I don't think that we could be happier. The Strider Bikes have been an ideal fit and helped to make the Safety City exhibit even better. They really are great. If I had a kid I’d buy him one!