Two weeks after a portion of a bicycle track at Elvira Elementary School was bulldozed because of safety concerns, the Sunnyside Unified School District administration committed $10,000 to see it rebuilt.

This time the features of the park will be smaller and pre-approved by the district administration. The first track was built with approval of the school’s administrators, but not district officials.

“There will be some standards set for the new path based on legal council and our safety regulations,” Sunnyside public relations representative Misti Nowak said. “The cycling team will come up with a plan and they’ll submit it to the governing board. This is the part of the process that didn’t take place last time.”

Ignacio Rivera de Rosales, the Pima County’s elementary and middle school educator who was involved in building the first track, said they will work hard to create a track that is both fun and safe.

Sunnyside superintendent Manuel Isquierdo committed $10,000 to fund the bicycle program at Elvira.

He said they wanted to find a balance “so that the elementary school kids show up on campus and go, ‘that is totally sweet,’ and they totally love riding it, but at the same time it meets the needs and responsibilities of the school district to ensure a safe playground.”

Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists vice president and Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee member Martha Lemen helped build the original track at the school near South 6th Avenue and Valencia Road. She said the the district said they could have rollers, berms, rock gardens and other features, but they have to make sure they aren’t too aggressive.

Nowak said the bicycle advocates’ passion is what caught the attention of the district superintendent Manuel L. Isquierdo.

“We are really excited to be working with a group of cycling professionals with so much experience,” Nowak said. “I think that is what really got district administration on board was their passion and the experience that each of them has.”

“I think they were surprised to learn people exist that are like us,”Lemen  said. “Passionate about cycling and passionate about teaching bike skills.”

The money Isquierdo committed to the project will help fund the track’s construction and buy a fleet of bicycles for the students to use.

All of the parties say they are excited about creating something they hope can become a model for schools across the state.

“We are all super excited about developing a program that we all think is unique to school property,” Lemen said. “We are creating a model that we hope to use state-wide if not beyond.”

The group is hoping to complete a plan with specific dimensions for each feature and submit it to the district at the May school board meeting for approval.

5 thoughts on “Sunnyside commits $10k to rebuild bulldozed bike track”
  1. I’m going to sound like the big kill joy. Eventually some kid will crash on this new, safe, track and get seriously hurt. It probably won’t be because the track is hazardous, it’s just that kids often do dumb things. The school district will get sued and money that should go for educating lots of kids will get funneled to pay the hurt kid’s parents. I love the idea of a bike track at a school, I’m just not sure that it’s a good idea in our sue happy society.
    Back when I was a kid, the parents would scold the kid for being a stupid klutz as they were hauling him to the emergency room. Today, parents are on their smart phone looking for a lawyer as they’re driving to the hospital.
    I hope I’m wrong. The only problem is that it only takes one crash by a kid who has just the right (wrong?) parents, and everyone gets s(cr)ued.
    BTW, Elvira is my alma mater, if that’s the right term for an elementary school. I hope my worse case scenario never comes to pass.

  2. Many years ago, I went to an elementary school that had a nature trail. The trail was built by a local Boy Scout troop, and those kids did everything, and I do mean everything.

    This included moving heavy logs into place so that they could serve as the base for bridges. All the kids worked as a team to move those logs, and it was fun to watch. Made me wish that my Girl Scout troop could do the same thing, but it was the Sixties and little girls just didn’t do heavy labor.

    I wish that a similar thing were happening at this school. Kids just aren’t physically challenged enough these days, and I think that, in part, is why we have such an obesity problem.

    As for the bikes, I say let the kids earn the privilege of using them during school. Make them jump through some hoops — school attendance, good citizenship in class, doing homework and turning it in, getting good grades, etc. Then let them enjoy the reward of having bikes to use on the track.

  3. The money will go to buying a fleet bikes for the kids to use at school, construction materials and signs. Yes, volunteers are available for free for labor.

  4. OK. The district superintendent has turned a stinko situation into a positive headline. I very much hope the results of the forth-coming process will be fun.

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