As the saying goes, you’d have to be living “under a rock” not to have noticed that New Orleans is in the middle of a biking boom, fueled partly by a growing network of “bike-only” paths and street lanes.
On March 26, students, parents and neighbors of St. Pius X School in Lake Vista acknowledged the two-wheel trend by taking their bikes, scooters and other non-motorized vehicles to campus for an afterschool lesson on bike safety and a blessing from Father Patrick Williams, pastor of St. Pius X.
The event, organized by the school’s Wolf Cub den of 14 second graders, fulfilled two requirements of the Wolf badge: “Duty to God” – any project in which Wolf Cubs share their faith with the wider community; and “Home and Community,” a category that includes bike safety.
“We did this so our bodies could be safer when we ride,” explained Wolf Cub Brendan Truxillo, who had his bike and helmet blessed by Father Williams together with the jogging stroller of his younger brother, Owen.
“I like that when you ride your bike it helps the environment,” Brendan noted. “When you ride a car it pollutes the air; riding a bike, it does nothing.”
Brendan’s mother, Wolf Cub leader Theresa Truxillo, said the idea of having the neighborhood’s bicycles blessed came to her after watching her children and their friends bike to and from St. Pius.
“When they’re leaving (for school), in my head I’ll say, ‘Be safe. Be safe.’ I catch myself praying for them,” Truxillo said. “And when I see them coming home, I’m like, ‘Good job! What a relief! Thank you, God, for getting them home safely.’”
With homes clustered around pocket-parks laced with paved, non-vehicular lanes, the Lake Vista neighborhood’s layout makes it especially bike-friendly, Truxillo noted. As a result, a large number of St. Pius students walk, scooter or bike to school.
Before the bike blessing, Truxillo taught the Wolf Cubs safety basics such as the hand signals for turning and the importance of riding in single file, wearing bright or reflective clothing and strapping on a helmet, no matter how short the ride or hard the riding surface.
She also showed them a simple way to determine if their helmets were positioned correctly on the head: the front of the helmet should rest two finger widths from the top of the eyebrows.
The activity concluded with 30 minutes of on-campus bike riding, a final requirement of a “belt loop” toward the boys’ Wolf badges.
“I like doing tricks, like bunny hops and wheelies,” said Wolf Cub Rowan Bourdais. “I feel safer now because my bike is blessed.”