More Wellington Kids to be Out Riding Bikes
14 August 2014
Students of three Wellington Primary Schools will soon be mastering their cycling skills within the safety of their school grounds thanks to a new initiative from Wellington City Council.
Children from West Park School, Johnsonville, will be piloting the Bikes in Schools programme
West Park School, Karori West Normal School and Holy Cross School have been selected to pilot ‘Bikes in Schools’, a biking package that includes new bikes and purpose built tracks.
Bikes in Schools will give over 1000 students each year the chance to become more confident and competent on bikes through riding on a regular basis. Students will benefit from improved attitudes toward cycling and better physical and mental health.
Councillor Andy Foster, Chair of the Transport and Urban Development Committee, says the provision of bikes and tracks will provide a valuable opportunity for students to master their cycle skills in a safe and fun environment.
“Over the last 20 years there has been a dramatic reduction in biking by New Zealand primary school children while the number of adults riding bikes has risen significantly. The result is that many children do not have the confidence or skills to ride on Wellington streets, and are not able to experience the social and health benefits from cycling regularly.
“This initiative is one of the ways the Council is improving road safety throughout Wellington and making the city more cycle friendly. It joins other improvements, including cycle stop boxes at traffic lights (the green road markings which give cyclists a safer place to stop at the lights), the Tawa Valley Pathway – Ara Tawa which was completed in May this year and ongoing planning work for cycle ways in the southern suburbs.”
Bikes in Schools is based on a successful programme developed in Hawkes Bay and is the first of its type in Wellington. The Council is funding $30,000–$45,000 for each school, including a fleet of new bikes and bike helmets, purpose-built bike skills tracks, bike storage facility and skills training.
The tracks are being designed by City Council engineers with input from students. At each school a group of student representatives have been finding out what the other students want to learn, and asking for ideas to make the track design safe and fun. These findings will influence the final design and the tracks will be unique to each school.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says that Bikes in Schools is one of several positive contributions toward encouraging transport choices.
“Bikes in Schools means Wellington students will be healthier and more independent,” says the Mayor. “Modern cities offer children opportunities for daily exercise and recreation. This is essential to challenge increasing obesity.
“Wellington aspires to be the Mountain Bike Capital with its award-winning Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park. Riding a bike on the flat is a pre-requisite to enjoying the adrenaline-filled tracks so close to the city.”
An expression of interest to take part in Bikes in Schools was sent to all Wellington City primary and intermediate schools earlier this year. Of the 12 schools that applied, five were shortlisted and three selected.
The successful schools showed they were committed to maintaining and regularly using the bikes and tracks and how they would incorporate the activities into the school curriculum.