- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - A scene nagged at Fort Wayne Community Schools bus driver Tania Glass: a middle school student bicycling to school, in the dark, in the middle of St. Joe Center Road.

Dark clothing and the lack of a bicycle light made the child even more difficult to see, she said. And that young bicyclist hasn’t been the only one to cause her concern, she said; others have also blended into the darkness.

Instead of sitting back, worrying and complaining, Glass decided to take action, but not just to benefit a few. She stepped up to help all FWCS students who bike to school by distributing lights districtwide.

“As a biker and a bus driver, safety is a big thing,” she said.

Glass, who has driven various routes for FWCS about 14 years, has given about 500 lights to the schools, she said. She said the effort began in the fall at Study Elementary School and continued in March and April.

Her cause received a boost from FWCS after district spokeswoman Krista Stockman, a fellow Three Rivers Velo Sport member, learned that Glass was asking club members for donations, Stockman said.

FWCS contributed bike safety brochures, Stockman said, as well as items purchased for giveaways at events - flashing book bag tags and reflective bands that can be worn on arms or ankles.

Bicycling to school is popular at Blackhawk Middle School, which can run out of bike rack space on nice days and even has some students who bike in inclement weather, principal Kara Kroning said.

She sees the need to make students more visible while traveling to school. Popular routes include the sidewalks along East State Boulevard and Lahmeyer Road, which doesn’t have sidewalks, she said.

Although Blackhawk’s school day doesn’t begin until 7:20 a.m., Kroning said students are allowed in the building about 6:50 a.m. Children begin arriving after 6:30 a.m., she said, which means some are on their bikes as early as 6:15 a.m.

She watches for certain student cyclists during her commute because she knows they will be out, she said, but other drivers might not be aware of them.

“Even this time of year, it’s still pretty dark out then,” she said.

Glass said she invested at least $800 in the lights and received nearly $200 in donations, but the out-of-pocket expenses don’t matter to her.

Her experiences of being hit by cars - neither incident left her seriously hurt, she said - further motivate her to promote safe bicycling practices.

“I’m doing it for the kids,” she said.

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Source: The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette, https://bit.ly/2pdJNbS

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, https://www.journalgazette.net

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