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On their bikes – safely!2 min read

Apr 9, 2022 2 min

On their bikes – safely!2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Royal Oak Intermediate is reviving one of the great traditions of New Zealand schools. Bike racks and sheds used to be a permanent fixture in all schools, but have faded from popularity this century. However, the bike rack has made a return to ROI, where increasingly, students are choosing to cycle to school.

The return of biking is due to principal, Tony Coughlan, who is a keen cyclist. When he arrived at ROI, Tony introduced cycle trains (the cycling version of a walking school bus) for pupils from Māngere Bridge, as a way to improve the connection between the school and families on the south side of the harbour. It has proved so successful that now the school has introduced cycling trains for students from Te Papapa and One Tree Hill.

The cycle trains are organised at the start of every school year and run through the month of February. Each train is led by a teacher, and parents are also invited to ride along with their children. Each group meets at the same place every morning and then follows the teacher to school.

Safety is paramount and one of the aims is to teach the children how to ride on public streets. They are taught how to work out a safe cycling route and to never ride on busy main roads like Mt Smart Road or Manukau Road. Instead they use quiet side streets and cycleways wherever possible. Other lessons include learning the Road Code and the importance of safety equipment, such as helmets.

Aside from the obvious health advantages of regular exercise, Tony says it also helps build the personal confidence of the pupils. He says that after a month of guided rides, many carry on cycling to and from school for the rest of the year. He says that it also builds relationships between the teachers and pupils outside of the classroom. We are not just here to teach them how to read and write,” he says.

Another unexpected benefit is that the programme has also been popular with many parents, who regularly join their children for the ride to school.

 

Parents and pupils preparing for the ride to school (Photo supplied)