By CHRIS AGEE
BikeTexas, a statewide bicyclist advocacy group, delivered thousands of safety lights to students at Mineral Wells' Travis Elementary School Tuesday morning.
According to BikeTexas Ambassador Durwood Mayfield, the lights can be attached to bicycles, but can also serve many other safety functions.
"Kids can put them on bikes or on their skateboards, scooters, backpacks or belt loops," he said. "These are really light, easy to use and really easy to attach to anything."
Safety tips in both English and Spanish are printed on the packaging and students received additional safety material to take home.
Along with a safety coloring book, Mayfield said students also took home a more thorough "A to Z" bike safety guide.
The material is provided through a Texas Department of Transportation grant known as "Safe Routes to School," he explained, noting about 1.3 million Texas students have received the material in the past two years.
Tuesday's delivery was special, Mayfield said, explaining it was in memory of Mineral Wells resident and BikeTexas board member Iris Stagner.
"She was undoubtedly a fine advocate for this area," he said. "A lot of stuff that's happened here wouldn't have happened without her."
Mayfield said the TxDOT grant is nearing its expiration and this is one of the last remaining deliveries.
"We're coming down to the end of the program," he said. "We're trying to get as much as we can out to the students."
A major winter storm prevented Mayfield and BikeTexas Program Manager Fernando Martinez from making their next scheduled stop in Amarillo on schedule, he said, noting the pair has another 40,000 items to deliver to schools in that community.
Bicycling enthusiast Neil Reddick also took part in unloading the materials and said he is optimistic students will learn safety tips through the program that will stay with them through adulthood.
"Hopefully its a lasting thing," he said. "Everything is gradual," he added, explaining he doesn't expect to see immediate results but feels the good habits found in the material will make an impression.
BikeTexas does extensive work to advance policies promoting safety for vulnerable road users, Mayfield added. In addition to bicyclists, those at risk include runners and other non-motorists on roadways, he said.
The group is currently working with the Texas Senate to adopt legislation to require any new roadway construction or overhaul projects to consider vulnerable road users in their engineering plans.
For more information on the advocacy group, visit biketexas.org.