One Thing Leads to Another – Walk, Bike, Just Get Active.


The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health, the Mason City Community School District and the Mason City Blue Zones Project have partnered on the community’s successful Walking School Bus Program for many years. Most recently, three representatives from these organizations, including myself, attended the state-wide Safe Routes to School Workshop sponsored by the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. During the workshop, the three of us started brainstorming ways to get more kids involved in walking to school. We realized that many students live too far away to walk to school in a timely manner. Our attention then turned to the older students, “How do we get middle-school students involved in Safe Routes to School activities?”
Pretty soon, we were formulating a plan to educate students on bike safety and figure out ways to encourage students to ride their bikes to school. Whether I should admit this or not, we spent the rest of the workshop in our own little world, designing the concept of offering annual bike rodeo and bike presentations to our students. Before long, a list of partner agencies and avid community “bikers” was developed, dates were set, skits were drafted, and incentives were donated.
In May 2015, a core group of six representatives from a variety of organizations throughout the community delivered Bike Safety Presentations to over 350 elementary students at various grade schools and hosted an Annual Bike Rodeo. Local civic organizations offered time, monies, and bike helmets to incentivize students and families to participate. Police and Community Champions offered education and bike safety training, and even a couple local bike shops donated their time and tools to “fix” youth bicycles, ensuring they were road-ready.
This series of activities was done entirely without grant funding or major dollar donations. Several community organizations donated items (bikes, helmets, ad space, etc.) and all the partners made time into their work schedules to help create this successful series of events.
In fact, every partner agreed to incorporate these activities into their annual schedules, so the Bike Education and Bike Rodeo activities should remain a highlight in schools and to families in Mason City each spring, just as the weather starts inviting us back outside!

For more information on the Mason City Bike Safety Programs, contact Kelli Huinker at the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health – 22 North Georgia Avenue Suite 300 – Mason City, Iowa 50401. Phone: 641-421-9312 Email: khuinker@cghealth.com.