Bikes in Schools gives primary students new skills

Takapuna Primary School students Siha Choi, left, Jayziah Gerrand, and Uri Lee, all 5, are excited to learn how to ride ...
EMILY FORD/FAIRFAX NZ

Takapuna Primary School students Siha Choi, left, Jayziah Gerrand, and Uri Lee, all 5, are excited to learn how to ride a bike.

 

Riding a bike is much more fun than a scooter, says Jayziah Gerrand.

The 5-year-old doesn't know how to push the bike pedals yet, but he's getting used to balancing and steering.

Beginner riders enjoy a biking session with Bikes in Schools at Takapuna Primary School.
EMILY FORD/FAIRFAX NZ

Beginner riders enjoy a biking session with Bikes in Schools at Takapuna Primary School.

It's the same for most of his classmates at Takapuna Primary School. They've spent the first week of term 2 learning to ride bikes through the Bikes in Schools programme.

With big grins and wide eyes, the children zip around the school courtyard, enjoying the new thrill.

"I'm worried about crashing but I can stop the bike when I put my feet down," Jayziah says.

"Coming up and down the hill isn't scary," classmate Siha Choi, 5, says. "We went so fast."

After two years of planning, principal Cindy Walsh is excited to introduce the programme to the school.

Of the 450 children at the school, 126 of them don't know how to ride a bicycle, which surprises her.

"We're getting children to be active and helping increase their physical fitness and health," Walsh says.

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"It will have huge benefits for the children. I hope they grow up to become cycling adults."

Bikes in Schools is run by Bike on New Zealand Charitable Trust as a way to help children learn to bike and start riding on a regular basis.

In February Auckland Council awarded a $85,000 regional sports and recreation grant to the trust to enable it to expand the programme.

Takapuna Primary School introduced the programme in May, after receiving funding for a fleet of 50 helmets and 50 bicycles.

The school installed a purpose-built bike track on the field at the end of last year and is open for the community to use on weekends.

Students that can't ride bikes are learning and teachers will lead fortnightly lessons.

About 10 children regularly ride to school and Walsh, an avid cyclist herself, is hoping to change that.

"The dream would be to have them biking to school rather than being dropped off in cars."

Walsh is hopeful that more people choosing to cycle will help ease traffic congestion and teach children about road safety.

 - Stuff

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