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  • Pima County helps Lauffer Middle School turn The Loop into a classroom

    Apr 18, 2014 | Read More News
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    Lauffer Middle School on The LoopThirty-one middle school students observed our desert environment up close on a field trip this week on The Loop.

    Pedaling against 24 mph winds, they also learned the value of perseverance – with an assist from the Pima County Bicycle & Pedestrian Program.

    Rebeka Denson, a teacher at Billy Lane Lauffer Middle School, 5385 E. Littletown Road, got interested in taking her students out on bicycles when she saw the Julian Wash segment of The Loop under construction behind the school.

    Helmet fittingShe connected with the Bicycle & Pedestrian Program, and Ignacio Rivera de Rosales, who first came to the school to talk to the students about bike safety and the rules of the road, returned Tuesday with the program’s trailer full of helmets and loaner bikes.

    While all of the students could ride, many did not have helmets – or had inadequate ones – and some did not have bikes. Ignacio and Pima County Bike Ambassador Anton Russell fitted helmetless students with BMX-style helmets they got to keep, adjusted other students’ helmets, and talked to all of them about proper fit.

    Girls with new helmetsBikeless students got loaner bikes, and Ignacio and Anton adjusted seat heights and pumped tires.

    “They are very fun to ride,” Ignacio said about the loaner bikes. “But they are not toys. They are tools.

    “Don’t slam on the brakes. You’ll be surprised at how well they work. And make sure your feet are moving when you change gears.”

    Burrowing owls displayAfter instructing the students on safe passing – “Just say something nice to let them know you’re there” – Ignacio led the students onto The Loop at Thomas Jay Regional Park, with Ms. Denson, Anton and two adult school volunteers riding along.

    “We can cruise. We can enjoy being out here. But nobody’s racing today,” he warned.

    The wind was fierce, and the ride out a little uphill, but most of the students rode five miles to a rest area where history about the nearby train tracks was displayed. They stopped along the way at other displays, including one devoted to burrowing owls, and wrote down answers to questions about the environment in a field notebook Ms. Denson had prepared for them before the trip.

    Riding on The LoopThen they got to turn around and ride, with the wind at their backs, back to school.

    “They loved turning around and coasting back,” Ms. Denson said later. “They valued it because they had to work so hard for it.

    “I think they now have an appreciation for the desert environment, biking and the confidence that they can physically do more than they thought possible.”

    The Loop, she said, “is a wonderful outdoor classroom!”

    Loop interactive mapFor more information about the Bicycle & Pedestrian Program in schools, please visit the program website or contact Program Manager Matt Zoll at 520-724-2453 or by email.

    Please visit The Loop online for the latest maps and updates on access, improvements and other news about The Loop.

    Measure your route and create, print or export your own map like the one on the right using The Loop interactive map.

    Check out – and “like” – The Loop on Facebook.