Educational videos can demonstrate techniques, explain concepts, appeal to people with different learning styles, and they can be a fun way to have students create messages to share with their peers
Videos can communicate proper bicycling behaviors, share success stories, and promote the benefits of walking and bicycling. They can demonstrate techniques, explain concepts using both words and graphics, and appeal to people with different learning styles. This guidebook provides tips on how to create your own educational videos for teaching children and families. The following sections outline potential topics for educational videos, including bike safety, climate change and health, youth empowerment, and
encouragement. They also provide instruction on elements that make videos successful and examples of good videos from other organizations.
For more information, and for additional resources about
educational videos, visit our website and YouTube channel:
Signage for bicyclist and motorist traffic integration in Brooklyn, NY (Melissa Howard/The Brooklyn Ink)
Many different topics addressing bicycle safety can be demonstrated through educational videos. Before deciding to make your own video, think about which topics you would like to teach. This chapter suggests videos to teach different topics. Many of these existing videos are dated or send negative messages to families. Children, especially teens, are sensitive to current fashions and music. Creating a new video with students lets you decide what material to present.
The following sections include sample content for educational videos to help you decide what you would like to present. Mix and match material to make a video that addresses the unique issues in your community.
Tips for Creating Videos
Preparing to Ride
Before getting on a bicycle, make sure you are ready to ride. The following tips will help community members prepare for their rides and get comfortable on their bikes.
- Fitting your bike: Show how to decide if your bicycle is the right size and your seat is at the right height. This will help with balance and comfort while riding.
- The parts of the bike: Knowing the parts of the bike and their functions will help you understand if your bike is working properly. For example, explain why and how to shift gears.
- ABC Quick Check: Demonstrate how to put air in your tires, test your brakes, lube your chain, check your quick releases, and prepare your bicycle to ride.
Road Rules and Conduct
Knowing traffic rules and how to interact with other people on the road will help make everyone safer. Teach families the following skills to improve their riding:
- Signs, signals, and laws: Teach bicyclists the meaning of traffic signs and signals, particularly the difference between stopping and yielding. Present state and local laws, such as when to ride on the right and where sidewalk riding is not permitted. Bicycles are considered vehicles and must obey all traffic laws.
- Being predictable: Show bicyclists how to ride in a straight line with traffic and to not weave around parked vehicles. Include a demonstration of making eye contact and using hand signals to communicate with others on the road when changing lanes or turning.
- Making left turns: Show bicyclists how to make left turns with vehicles, to make a two-stage turn, and to cross like a pedestrian. Discuss what conditions would impact bicyclists' decisions about how they would turn left.
Type of Bicycle Facilities
The different types of bikeway facilities each require a different level of knowledge and set of skills. Teach families about the bikeway in your community so they feel comfortable and confident while riding, and they behave predictably in traffic.
- Paths and trails: These are separate from motor vehicles and bicyclists often must share space with pedestrians, small children, and animals. Teach youth how to be courteous and pass safely on paths and trails and how to properly re-enter the roadway.
- Bike lanes: Show how bicycle lanes differ from paths and trails, such as the need to provide space away from parked cars. Explain potential conflicts when motorists enter the bike lane and when bicyclists need to leave the bike lane.
- Shared streets: Teach students how to ride safely while sharing the street with vehicles, such as when to ride on the right, when to take the lane, how to avoid the door zone, and how to position the bicycle to turn.
Clothing and Equipment
Specific types of clothing and equipment can make you safer when you are on a bike. Use the following tips to teach students what to wear and what they should bring with them while riding.
- Helmet safety: Demonstrate how to fit your helmet properly. Point out where to find the CPSC sticker or other safety certification and remind bicyclists to replace their helmets if they get in a crash.
- Important bicycle equipment: Show bicyclists where they should have lights and reflectors, how to lock their bikes, and what to use to carry items. Many students need to carry musical
instruments; provide alternatives that allow students to keep both hands free to maneuver their bicycle.
- What to wear: Explain why it is important to wear bright clothing and reflective gear, point out safety tips like tucking in shoelaces, and discuss four weather gear.
Teaching students to fix their bicycles empowers them to maintain their transportation freedom. Videos enable students to re-watch the videos as they are fixing their problem.
- Flat Fixes: Walk through the steps of removing the wheel and tire, finding the puncture, repairing it, and reassembling the bicycle.
- Brake adjustments: Explain the importance of correctly adjusted brakes and how to recognize when adjustments are needed.
Crash Types and Hazard Avoidance
Many types of bicycle crashes can be avoided by knowing how to navigate around them. Teach students how to deal with the following situations, so they know what behaviors are most likely to cause a crash and how to avoid it.
- Common crash types: Explain common crash types for children, the most
common being at intersections. Show how crashes happen and demonstrate ways of avoiding them, such as riding with traffic, not riding on the sidewalk, and holding their line.
- Avoiding hazards: Show examples of hazards found in the roadway, like
rocks, parallel cracks, stray animals, and railroad tracks, and demonstrate how to maneuver around them.
- Driveways and intersections: Explain that these are points of conflict between bicyclists and motorists, and bicyclists should be extra aware when crossing them. Discuss why it is important to watch for traffic when entering traffic from a sidewalk, driveway, or an offstreet trail.
Riding With Your Children
Whether headed to school or to the park,riding bicycles is a great way for families to spend time together while getting some exercise. Teach parents and guardians the following tips for keeping children safe and prepared on their bikes.
- Choosing routes: Teach parents to select streets with slow speeds, few motor
vehicles, and crossings at traffic signals for riding with children.
- Stay at the back: Parents should ride behind their children except when riding
downhill, to keep an eye on their child.
- Setting up bike trains: Bike trains are a way for children to ride to school more
often without needing their parent to accompany them. Explain how to set up a bike train in your community.
- Going to bike shops: Provide tips on questions to ask bike shops, like when
your child needs a bigger helmet, the right type of bike to carry your child, or the correct size of bicycle for a growing child.
Climate Change and Transportation
Walking, bicycling, and taking transit for transportation reduces negative impacts on the environment and helps reverse the impacts of climate change. Use the following information to educate families about environmentally-friendly transportation. Where possible, use professional studies and local data to reinforce the messages.
- Air quality: Show how different modes of transportation emit different amounts
of air pollutants, which lead to health concerns and impact the environment. Teach how bicycling is one of the cleanest forms of transportation and can reduce the effects of climate change.
- Climate Change: Discuss the scientific data on climate change - years of increasing temperatures, extreme weather, and sea level rise. Show the percentage of greenhouse gases caused by the transportation sector. Show how green transportation options can reduce carbon emissions.
- Oil and fuel: Drilling for oil, a nonrenewable resource, can alter habitats and pollute the air and water. Teach students how walking, bicycling, and transit use can minimize fuel consumption and protect the environment.
- Pavement coverage: Explain the relationship between paved surfaces and increased runoff, heat islands, and habitat destruction.
Walking and bicycling are good for your health because they increase physical activity and thus provide the many benefits that come with exercise. Explain to families how their health can be improved by bicycling in the following ways.
- Obesity reduction: Biking more means more physical activity, which can lower
the chances of becoming obese.
- Fewer diseases: People who bike more tend to have lower risks for diseases that
are associated with lack of exercise, such as heart disease.
- Improved mind: More exercise can lead to improved concentration and, as a
result, better grades. Children arrive at school awake and ready to learn.
Encouraging children to get involved in improving their communities at a young age helps build confidence, establish leadership skills, and educate them on civic responsibilities. Use the following ideas to teach children how to become empowered to make change.
- Benefits of bicycling: Motivate students to teach each other why bicycling is important. Provide tips on what to say and how to engage with their peers.
- Organizing events: Teach children how to run incentive programs that encourage students to walk and bike to school. Explain how to organize and be involved in walking audits at their school.
- Civic engagement: Educate children on how to speak at a public meeting in their city or how to organize a letter writing campaign to improve walking and biking.
Parent and Guardian Awareness
Educating parents on the benefits of Safe Routes to School programs can increase the rate of walking and biking to school. Review the following benefits to show parents how active transportation
can improve their school and family.
- Reduced congestion: Explain to parents that more families walking and biking means fewer vehicles around schools during commute times.
- Improved safety: Educate parents on the concept of “safety in numbers” as it pertains to bicycling and show them how biking and walking can be less dangerous than driving.
- Cost savings: pertains to bicycling and show them how biking and walking can be less dangerous than driving.
To get students and families excited about participating in your program, mix highlights of your program with interviews with parents, students, teachers, principals, and public officials.
Present topics clearly and concisely. Use a test audience to confirm your message is adequately communicated.
Essential Video Elements
Once you have your topics and are ready to make your video, consider the following qualities to help you decide how to communicate the information.
- Target audience age and ethnicity: Use age appropriate language to convey messages. Present information and safety tips that are relevant to your audience. Use images that relate to your audience.
- Visuals: Your video should look high quality, so record with a high resolution camera. Consider using free or inexpensive video editing software, such as iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Shotcut, WeVideo, or YouTube’s built-in editing capabilities.
- Communication: Present topics clearly and concisely. Use a test audience to confirm your message is adequately communicated.
- Consider learning styles: Appeal to audiences of different learning styles through a mix of graphics, verbal explanations, and demonstrations.
- Stay current: Use up-to-date references and video styles to keep the attention of your viewers.
- Keep it simple: Stick to your theme and do not attempt to include too much information. If your video gets too long, consider breaking it into two.
- Length: Keep it short and sweet! Instructional videos should be one to two minutes - separate different ideas into their own videos, whcih can be played back-to-back if desired. Promotional videos should be even shorter, 30 seconds is ideal.
There are three phases to creating a video. The following pages include a description and a list of tips for each phase.
Phase 1: Pre-Production
A script will help you identify what content you plan to include in the video.
Pre-production is the first phase of creating a video. During this phase, you will define your goals for the video, plan the content, and assemble the necessary equipment for production. Below are a list of steps for creating a successful pre-production phase. For more information about pre-production and content, see the Content Tips below.
- Assemble a storyboard. A storyboard is an illustration sequence of your video that will help you visualize the scenes and order of events in your video. With a paper and pen, sketch out a rectangle for each scene you anticipate to include in your sequence. Within each rectangle, draw the scene or use keywords to describe it. It is a simple task that will help you visualize the elements of your video and what will need to be filmed during production.
- Write a draft script. A script is a written document that identifies the scenes, dialogue and actions in your video. For bike safety videos, your script can include subjects and main talking points or it can be detailed dialogue if you plan to memorize specific content. If you plan to interview a subject, assemble a list of questions. Like the storyboard, a script will help you identify what content you plan to include in the video.
- Identify locations, props and people. Where will your video take place? Do you need permission to film on a school site? What props will you include in your video (e.g. bikes, helmets, orange cones).
Who will participate in your video? If you include children under the age of 18, you will need a release form to use their image.
- Gather your equipment. You’ll need three basic pieces of equipment:
- A video camera. See if your school has a camera you can use. If not, you might be able to rent one. Contact a local video camera rental company for options and advice. The camera should be high resolution to shoot a professional-looking video, while the video recorder in your cell phone may work for a less-formal video. Here are some tips for shooting good-quality video on your cell phone.
- A tripod. A tripod will help stabilize your footage.
- A microphone. Try to find a video camera with a microphone jack so you can use an external microphone. Consider getting a wireless microphone to clip onto the clothing of your main subject and to help block outside noise.
Phase 2: Production
Production is the second phase of creating a video. It includes filming the footage that will be used to create the video.
- Set-up the shot selectively.
- Your subject(s) and scene should be in a well-lit and quiet location.
- Sound Quality
- Plug in headphones to check that your audio is working.
- Avoid "active listening" when you interview a subject. After the subject finishes an answer, pause before you ask the next question or before you respond. People are inclined to say "ok, great, ya," after someone makes a point. Instead, just nod (in silence) to show you're listening.
- The microphone picks up a lot of sounds that our brains typically filter. If there is a plane overhead, a car starting, or other people talking, the microphone will pick it up and it will be hard to hear the speaker. Try to find the quietest place possible, inside or away from activity. Or, if a noise disrupts an answer, ask the subject to start again once the noise subsides.
- Coach the subject to speak clearly.The subject should respond to questions in complete sentences. For example, if asked their favorite color, they should reply, “My favorite color is
- It’s okay to mess up. The subject can always start again. Similarly, if the subject has a run-on sentence with a lot of great points, you can ask them to repeat what they just said, but in a concise sentences or sentences.
- Pay attention to composition. Frame your shot to lea e space around the subject without potential distractions, such as a light-pole from across the street looking like it's sticking out of
- Film extra buffer time (15 seconds) before and after your shots to make sure you have enough footage for editing. In the editing room, you can reduce a 10 second clip to a 2 second
clip, but you can’t make a 2 second clip into a 10 second clip.
- Keep the camera steady during filming. Use a tripod to avoid shaking. Do not excessively pan and zoom.
- That kind of work can be done in post-production if needed.
- Film your action or subject in different perspectives. If conducting an interview, zoom out a few questions, then zoom in or shoot from a different angle to provide some variety.
- B-Roll is the supplemental footage intercut with a main shot. Think of it as filler footage in-between the main action.
- Take additional video footage that "sets the scene." If you’re interviewing someone about their commute on the bus, film them waiting for the bus, getting on and off it, riding it, paying their fare, and walking to their destination. Take video of the bus arriving, departing, the schedule, the bus station, stop name, or destination name. In short, it's okay if the b-roll has outside noise; kids laughing can add to the video.
- Quality Check
- After you film a shot, rewind and play it back to ensure the audio and video footage came through.
- Don’t forget to take the lens cap off your camera!
Your video should be exported using the highest quality format. This may take longer, but will produce the best quality.
Phase 3: Post-Production
The third phase is post-production. During this phase, you assemble the footage from the Production phase into a complete video.
- Software. You will need computer software to edit your video footage together. Consider downloading free or low-cost video editing software. Options include, Windows Movie Maker and iMovie. More costly options include Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro.
- The length of your video will depend on the subject. Two minutes is a good length for a short but effective story or lesson. More importantly, the video should be concise, without unnecessary pauses or extra shots that don’t add to the story.
- Avoid jump cuts. A jump cut is when you have two consecutive shots with the same camera set-up, but a difference in subject. This is when you use b-roll in-between the shots or a fade between the shots.
- Use b-roll to help tell the story. A video with only interviews can be boring. Most of the video can be b-roll shots with only a few shots of the person being interviewed.
- Music. If you want music in your video, consider using free, royalty-free music from online artists. This will allow you to use songs without copyright violation.
- Export. Your video should be exported using the highest quality format. This may take longer, but will produce the best quality.
Host your own video contest!
Use these resources to spread the word and encourage students in your community to develop their own videos to promote walking and bicycling.
Check out these great video contests:
Below are some additional tips to consider when thinking about the content of your video:
- Keep it simple. Don’t show things too fast to try to pack in too much information, especially for a video aimed at kids.
- Repeat important messages. This will help people learn your key takeaways.
- Show hand signals on a bicycle from behind by facing away from the camera, not towards the camera.
- Define your audience in your dialogue. If you’re addressing parents, state “Parents, this part is for you.”
- Avoid stereotypes. Do not inadvertently reinforce stereotypes (e.g. girls being scared or boys being brave).
- Keep the message location-neutral. If you want the ability to license or share the video, don't mention specific local (or even state) laws that may vary in other areas. Instead of having organization/sponsor logos shown throughout, use a title slide at the beginning/end that can be switched out for other uses.
- Try to have a diverse cast and instructors.
- Avoid clothing with large logos recognizable characters while filming - it can be distracting and may confuse the message of the video.
The following example videos are particularly effective at communicating bicycle safety and encouragement concepts. Use these as references when developing your own videos and consider customizing the concepts presented for your community.
Safe Routes Philly’s Student Videos
Safe Routes Philly created a series of high-quality and age-appropriate bicycle and pedestrian safety videos for children and families. The videos vary in length and cover a wide range of topics. Some videos include instruction taught by children. Watch the various videos to learn how to teach:
- Bicycle safety checks
- Bicycle-specific laws and regulations
- Communicating with other road users
- Locking your bike
- Helmet fitting
Video: Safe Routes Philly Videos
Bike Safe - Bike Smart
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) produced a comprehensive bike safety video taught by children, for children. Though the video is now slightly outdated in terms of technology and graphics, it condenses a lot of information into a brief video. Watch this video for an effective demonstration of:
- Why and how to wear a helmet
- Lane positioning in roads and intersections
- Making eye contact
- Riding at night
Video: Bike Safe - Bike Smart
The Bicycle Zone
The University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) developed an educational video to teach families safe street riding. It depicts children teaching their parents how to ride safely, and effectively demonstrates what
to do and what not to do when riding a bicycle.
Watch this video to better understand:
- Why bicyclists follow the same rules as motorists
- How to scan/look for vehicles and use turn signals
- The dangers of sidewalk riding
Video: The Bicycle Zone
Other Educational Videos
For more examples of bike safety educational videos, see the following: