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Bike On NZ - Bikes in Schools project
It is incredible to think that there are many New Zealand children who have never had the opportunity to learn to ride a bike. Paul McArdle and wife Meg Frater thought the same thing, but instead of just thinking it, they acted and founded the not-for-profit organisation Bike On NZ with $50,000 of their own money. The aim of Bike On NZ is to help enable and assist more New Zealanders to experience the joy of biking by launching a series of projects to encourage people to bike more.
One of Bike On NZ’s schemes is ‘Bikes in Schools’, an initiative that is intended to provide all students at primary school level regular access to a bike, bike helmet and specially designed bike tracks within a school environment. The Prime Minister, John Key, officially launched Bikes in Schools at the pilot project, St Mary’s School, in Hastings in February 2010. The trust is also endorsed by top NZ cyclist Sarah Ulmer and BMX World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Sarah Walker.
All elements of each project, from the bike equipment to the tracks, are provided to the school for free, enabling every child equal access to the biking facilities. The goal is to encourage young children to become more active and healthy, help them develop basic bike skills and build their self-esteem while in a safe and familiar setting. The project means children, who may never have learnt to cycle otherwise, have the opportunity to experience the simple pleasure of riding a bike.
In July 2012, Apanui School in the eastern Bay of Plenty officially launched their very own Bikes in Schools project. The facility, which includes cycle trails, a 60-strong bicycle fleet and storage shed, had overwhelming support from the community to get it off the ground. Cycle Action Whakatāne (CAW) was the driver behind the project, but major sponsorship to the tune of $60,000 meant the venture came to fruition a lot earlier than anticipated. The cycle trails are available to the school during school hours and to the wider community outside school hours.
CAW president, David Wicks, was thrilled to see the project completed. “Many dedicated people spent an enormous amount of time planning and creating this initiative, and it is rewarding to think about the benefits it will have. Research shows that if kids develop skills, experience and confidence on bikes at a young again, they are more likely to participate in cycling when they are older, for both leisure and commuting purposes.” Mr Wicks said.
If you would like to get involved in Bikes in Schools, or see examples of this fantastic initiative, visit the Bike On NZ website.