Wheels turning quickly for Bikes in Schools programme
Plans to get more kids on bikes through a school-based programme are accelerating.
Palmerston North city councillors have voted to speed up spending on the Bikes in Schools scheme so six more schools could benefit in the coming year.
Terrace End, St Mary's and Longburn schools were selected for the scheme this year. They have bike tracks in place, and are just waiting for the bikes to arrive.
The council had provided $50,000 a year in its 10-year budget to roll out the programme to one school a year.
Cr Aleisha Rutherford convinced councillors to bring most of the money forward into this year and next year.
The coming year's $150,000 was expected to stretch twice as far as changes to New Zealand Transport Agency criteria were likely to see the council's contribution matched by a subsidy.
Under the scheme, the council's contribution goes toward creating bike tracks at the schools, where students can learn to ride a bike and become confident cyclists.
The tracks are available for community use outside school hours.
The schools do their own fundraising for the bikes, 50 per school, that remain school property, available for use at school by children who did not bring their own.
Ross Intermediate School principal Wayne Jenkins said he was disappointed the school was not first into the scheme, and hoped it could be one of the next out of the racks.
Traffic congestion around the school was a perennial problem, and he believed if more students were confident cycling to and from school, those issues would ease.
"The beauty of this programme is that it puts bike in schools so students can gain skills. There are no barriers."
Rutherford said council's $50,000 contribution to create the tracks was "ridiculously cheap" compared to many things the council did, and created enduring recreational opportunities for communities that did not have a lot.
Cycling councillor Chris Teo-Sherrell said the programme was incredibly successful and an example of the value of councils and schools entering partnerships for community good.
"Given the benefits for the health and wellbeing of children, it is one of the most important things we can contribute to."