Memorial fund established with Ecology Action to benefit youth bicycle safety education program

Ecology Action, a non-profit that promotes sustainable living, is the beneficiary of its first memorial fund aimed at funding a program that teaches youths bicycle safety. The Martha Bedal Memorial Fund was set up by her family to continue her legacy of supporting Ecology Action's Bike Smart! program. Bedal, a retired medical technologist and avid cyclist, died last September at age 62 after a nearly three year battle with pancreatic cancer. “I feel touched by the Bedal family's kindness,” said Kira Ticus, program assistant for Ecology Action's sustainable transportation group. “Both Martha and Richard have volunteered countless hours educating students on safe cycling techniques and I know that because of their generosity and selflessness, the kids in our community are safer.” Bike Smart! hit the road in 2003. It offers children in grades 4-12 safety presentations and an obstacle course while teaching safe riding practices, Ticus said. Bedal and her husband Richard were among the first volunteers to help get the program off the ground. “Bike Smart’s main purpose is to encourage youth to bicycle for fun, transportation and health through hands-on bicycle education at schools,” said Richard Bedal. “It definitely fit in with Martha’s unselfish desire to help others appreciate the wonders of cycling.” Bedal, took special interest in cycling at age 45, when she began to have problems with her knees, Richard said. “Cycling was the best exercise for them,” he said. Thus, cycling and cycling education became Bedal's passion. She was a member of the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club and pedaled through various parts of the U.S. and Europe. She also rode her bike in support of  The Lance Armstrong Foundation's fight against cancer. While with the local cycling club, Bedal led its Tuesday ride for two years, “taking members on roads and trails in the county many had never been on,” said Richard Bedal. After awhile, she realized the county needed a cycling class geared toward new and returning cyclists, he said. “She took lessons, then designed and taught the club’s Wednesday class until she was too ill to continue,” Bedal said. “Her goal was for people to enjoy cycling responsibly, meaning safely and following the law. Many today are enjoying the benefits of cycling because of her, including racers, commuters and cycling tourists. A number of her former students are now teaching the Wednesday class, so her legacy lives on.” Since the Martha Bedal Memorial Fund was started Sept. 10, the one year anniversary of her death, $5,800 has been donated to the fund, said Ticus. And since Bike Smart! began, nearly 5,000 students at more than 35 schools countywide have participated in the program. To make a donation, mail a check to Evan Parker, Ecology Action, P.O. Box 1188, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Write, “ATTN: Martha Bedal Memorial Fund,” in the memo line. For information, visit www.bikesmart.org.
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