Council funding gets kids riding bikes

10 November 2015

A further 650 Wellington primary school students will soon be honing their cycling skills on purpose built bike tracks thanks to Wellington City Council’s latest Bikes in Schools initiative.

Large group of primary school children on bikes.

Bikes in Schools programme

Amesbury School, Hampton Hill School and Houghton Valley School will each receive a minimum of $50,000 towards the cost of their purpose built bike tracks and bike storage.

This marks the first allocation from the Council’s three year fund which will allocate up to $600,000 to Bikes in Schools programmes at schools throughout Wellington.

This new funding scheme follows their Bikes in Schools pilot initiative that has been implemented at three Wellington schools: Holy Cross School (Miramar), West Park School (Johnsonville) and Karori West School.

The Bikes in Schools programme enables students to develop cycling skills in the safety of the school grounds, becoming more confident and competent on bicycles through their regular use.

Use of bikes will be built into the school curriculum and students will benefit from improved attitudes towards cycling and better physical and mental health.

Councillor Andy Foster, Chair of the Transport and Urban Development Committee, says that the provision of funding for bike tracks and storage has immediate benefits for students and is an investment in the communities surrounding these schools.

“Not only are the tracks used constantly by students during the school day, they are also used in the evenings and weekends by families living in the community, and by other nearby schools,” says Councillor Foster.

“Allocation of this funding is one of the ways the Council is encouraging active transport, improving road safety throughout Wellington and making the city safer for people cycling. This is especially important for our children.”

Jill Gower, Houghton Bay School Board of Trustees, says the students are really excited and there has been an outpouring of support from the community.

“Supporting this is a no-brainer. It’s easy to see how Bikes in Schools will have long term benefits for our kids. They can learn to ride in the safety of our primary school, gaining confidence and physical skills. Then they go on to riding to intermediate and then high school.”

Paul McArdle of the Bike On New Zealand Trust (BONZCT) will work with project managers from each of the schools on a comprehensive project plan that includes forecast timelines, project costings, and any required fundraising plan.

BONZCT will then review the school’s individual project plans with the Council to ensure the viability of the projects before proceeding further. BONZCT will be working closely with each school to ensure their Bikes in Schools programmes will be successfully implemented.

The full programme would see each school purchase a fleet of bikes with a ranges of sizes stored in a converted shipping container, a helmet for every child in the school and up to three bikes tracks including a perimeter track, skills track and a pumps track.

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Pedal Ready providers will work with each school to provide cycling skills training.

Raewyn Watson, Principal of Houghton Valley School says Council funding provides a strong base on which they can plan and fundraise from.

“This is a huge boost and makes it possible for us to introduce Bikes in Schools at our school. I’ve seen how students have benefited from this programme at other schools and can’t wait to see that joyful moment when a student gets it and can ride with confidence.”

Paul Barker, Safe and Sustainable Transport Manager says that Bikes in Schools provides a number of positive outcomes for Wellington

“The benefits are both immediate and life-long. Over the last 20 years in New Zealand, the number of adults riding bikes has risen significantly, whereas there has been a vast reduction in numbers of primary school children riding bikes.

“Bikes in Schools is one way we are working to reverse this trend and make cycling a viable active transport choice for everyone including children.”

For more information and an expression of interest form for next year’s funding: Bikes in Schools fund.