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Mason City School officials are reminding motorists to be cautious after at least one student was involved in a bicycle-vehicle accident earlier this month.

The district said a minor collision occurred Sept. 4 near the corner of East State Street and South Illinois Avenue when a John Adams Middle School student was biking home after school was dismissed. A police report was not filed.

A Harding Elementary student may have been involved in a second bike-vehicle collision on North Ohio Avenue the same day, but the district said it had few details on the incident.

While Mason City has a small percentage of students who bike to school, Mike Penca says the district takes time to emphasize safety with bike rodeos and other presentations, some of which are geared toward the district’s youngest cyclists, third- and fourth-graders.

Parents should also take time to discuss low-traffic routes, safe bike behaviors, understanding and following signage and the importance of wearing a helmet, according to Penca, who is the school district's executive director for learning supports and PK-4 programs.

Busy schedules and disconnected neighborhoods are one of the few factors Troy Carter says has contributed to fewer children biking to school. Roughly half walked or biked to school in 1969, a figure that is now down to 15 percent nationwide.

Carter is the safe routes to school coordinator for the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, an organization which educates and works to establish safe bicycling statewide. The group is a proponent of children traveling to school without vehicles, whether by a walking school bus or by bicycle.

"The more kids exercise, the better they often do in school overall," Carter said.

Carter says drivers may not be as aware of students on the road since a lower percentage are choosing to bike to school. He suggests always wearing a helmet, putting on bright clothing and traveling on a trail or bicycle lane when possible. Depending on the age of the child, sidewalks can also be used.

Drivers should be cautious, kind and limit distractions, Carter said, which includes putting down cell phones and completely changing lanes when passing a cyclist.

“That makes it safer for everyone out there on the road,” he said.

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Crash Date: Sept 4th 2015

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