Bike instructors get NZQA ticket to ride

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 07:02 31/01/2013

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Five instructors from Ride On Marlborough have been recognised for their dedication to teaching bicycle safety by being recognised as fully qualified by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority [NZQA].

Tina Fortune, David Speedy, Lynne Haines, Gillie Smith and Wendy Hughes underwent their assessment in December last year, with all of them making the grade. All five have been involved with Ride On Marlborough since it began in October 2011 and have been working towards their qualification since.

"We had to work through a work book as well as do practical experience teaching kids about bike safety," explained David.

"We had to do a certain number of hours and activities."

The instructors do receive some remuneration for their time but also volunteer extra hours. The main drive they say is to get kids to be confident on their bikes and out enjoying themselves.

"I'm keen to get kids off computers and achieving skills in the outdoors that help them develop personally as well as increase their fitness," said Gillie. Similarly, David who is an avid cyclist, said that he joined the programme so that he could impart his knowledge to the next generation.

The programme currently does level one, which is for off road and kids aged seven to 10 years old.

The recommended minimum age to ride a bicycle on the road is 10.

"The main aim is teaching them how to be safe and getting them confident on their bikes.

"The will hopefully have an effect on when they get to a driving age and are drivers who are better aware of cyclists," said Tina, who is the Marlborough community hubs advisor with Sport Tasman.

Driver awareness of cyclists in Marlborough, said Tina, is a concern and it is hoped that teaching children about cyclist safety will have an impact as they grow up.

The Ride On programme is designed to teach children over six weeks, with one and-a-half hour lessons once a week.

They also do condensed six-hour days when visiting rural areas.

These are both funded by the Marlborough District Council.

Another aspect is teaching bike maintenance and checking that bikes and helmets to ensure they are safe. All three of Blenheim's bicycle shops have come on board with this, said Tina.

The programme has grown in popularity, with some 1000 children benefiting from it to date. This year they are funded to visit 10 schools, but demand is high.

"We never thought it would take off like this," said Tina. "We have seen great results though and had a huge amount of positive feedback."

Apart from the five qualified instructors, there are also others in training as well as a pool of volunteers who help when they are available. More volunteers are always needed. You can contact Tina in this regard, or for more information on the programme on 03 577 8855, extension 5.

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- The Marlborough Express

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