Carbondale Teacher Seeks Strider Partnership To Reverse Decline Of Young Riders For Decades | Local news

Brian Matzenbacher, physical education teacher at Parrish School in Carbondale, is raising money to purchase Strider balance bikes for the school to help students learn balance and the basics of cycling.

Byron Hetzler

Despite an increase in the number of young cyclists during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children who ride their bikes is a fraction of what it was a few decades ago – having declined by almost 20% over the years. Last 15 years.

A teacher at Carbondale Elementary School hopes to change that – at least in his community.

Brian Matzenbacher, a physical education teacher at Parrish Elementary School, hopes to help kindergarten children learn to ride a bike through a program offered by Strider Sport International, a manufacturer of balance bikes.

Balance bikes are straightforward and many experts believe they are the perfect introduction to cycling for young children. Equipped with two wheels, a seat and a handlebar (but no pedals), cyclists use their feet to propel themselves forward, giving them the opportunity to learn balance as a precursor to a traditional bicycle. Some bikes may be fitted with pedals once the child has mastered the balance.

“As they learn, they have their feet on the ground. They’re going to get to where they can move and stay upright, and then they can start to lift their feet a little bit and try to balance. Once they can do it, we put the pedals in, ”he explained. “It will help them learn to ride a bike without ever having to use training wheels.”

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Matzenbacher hopes to work with the All Kids Bike Kindergarten PE program, an effort of Strider Bikes. If the school is able to raise $ 5,000, the company will provide 24 bikes as well as helmets and training aids.

“A lot of our students come from low income families so they might not have the opportunity to do something like this outside of school,” he said. “Also, I thought it would be a good thing to help the children learn to ride a bike. All children should know how to ride a bicycle.

Her dream is for every child who passes through the Carbondale School District to learn to ride a bicycle. He said that one of his “rider-in-training” each year will be eligible to win his own bike that he learns to ride, thanks to an in-kind donation from Phoenix Cycles to Carbondale.

The district has a history of creative elementary physical education programs. For many years, Parrish School has partnered with the District of Carbondale Park to provide introductory swimming lessons to students.

“Carbondale is a very cycling-oriented town, with cycle paths and more,” said Matzenbacher. “I think it’s something great to give as a gift and I think the kids are going to really appreciate it.”

He said the $ 5,000 will purchase equipment at a significant discount from Strider, as well as training and ongoing support for the company’s program.

“One of the best ways to get kids active is to get them excited about bikes,” says Ryan McFarland, All Kids Bike board member. “It’s a skill that will serve them in life.”

Matzenbacher said he hopes to start offering balance bike lessons in the fall. Those who wish to support the effort with a monetary donation can do so online at or by sending a donation to Strider Education Foundation, 2221 N. Plaza Drive, Rapid City, SD 57702.

“Parrish Elementary School” should be written on the memo line of checks.

The eighth segment of “The Southern Illinois 100”, articles which are synonymous with Southern Illinois.

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