Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 7:48am
Pilot MPD Program Deemed A Success
Usually Madison Police Department escorts are reserved for dignitary visits, but in this case, it is more about building positive relationships, and promoting bicycle safety, than it is about a need for protection. Make no mistake, those who have been traveling with South District officers over the past couple of weeks are very important people.
About 15 Leopold elementary school students have been accompanied by MPD officers, to and from school, as part of pilot project: The Leopold Bike Club. And The Leopold Bike Club is part of a larger health and wellness effort - the Madison Metropolitan School District's Safe Routes To School Program - aimed at getting more children to safely bike or walk to their schools.
Thanks to generous donations, each Leopold Bike Club member has been given their own bicycle. They've learned safe bike riding skills, and the hope is they will continue to peddle together when the September project wraps-up with an afterschool celebration Friday.
The Leopold Bike Club is the brainchild of South District Officer Andre Lewis who saw it as a great way to build a better rapport between children living at the Southridge Village Apartments, 1914 Post Rd. and Madison Police. Past police contacts with some complex residents have been strained.
Every morning, for 16 days, around 6:55 a.m., club members have set out with officers, and other volunteers for a 20-minute fun ride to school. When there's time, riders often do a few laps around a parking lot while enroute, and the route always concludes with a trek through a "secret" wooded pathway, which connects to the brand new Cannonball Bike Path, which leads to the back of Leopold School.
The MPD will look to expand the program to other schools in the future.
The department would like to thank many donors who made the pilot project possible, including: Pacific Cycle, Dream Bikes, and Wheels for Winners.Contacts:
- Joel DeSpain, 266-4897