Bikes in Schools is a brilliant charitable trust that does exactly what it says on the tin: it puts bikes into schools, along with professionally built bike tracks and proper bike training for young riders. They’re helping rescue the “lost generation” of bike riders, one school at a time. 

Cycle Action’s membership secretary Jane Admore went along to the launch of the newest school bike track in Auckland… 

Tamaki BiS opening May 2015_2-1It was a brilliant blue day at Tamaki Primary for the launch of their brand new Bikes in Schools bike track. A swarm of pupils in golden-yellow shirts headed to the field, where they sat patiently through the ceremonies while eyeing the more than 60 shiny new bikes just waiting to be put to use.

A glorious performance from the school kapa haka group opened the event, with students Willy and Stanley as  superbly capable MCs.

Willy and Stanley introduced their principal Rhonda Kelly (who is also a former pupil).  Rhonda was hugely enthusiastic about the increased level of activity in the playground, even before the Bike in Schools bikes arrived and were stashed in their big blue storage container. In the weeks leading up to the opening ceremony, kids who had their own bikes (about 20 of 250 pupils) had been bringing them to school and sharing them with others.

Most popular among these already experienced riders was the pump track, which had been artfully formed from the material excavated when building the flat track.

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GreenScene had then laid the main track in compacted sandstone. It seemed a great firm surface, with tyre tracks barely leaving a mark on it. The ribbon was cut, and then two pupils from each class got to ride a circuit. Huge grins all round and thunderous applause out as the ‘stars’ got back to base.

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Cycle training for the teachers (courtesy of Counties Manukau Sports) will ensure that PE classes will include training for pupils throughout the whole school, Years 1-8.

Tamaki BiS opening May 2015_10-1Willy and Stanley, who are in Year 8, told me they had ridden their bikes locally, but weren’t likely to ride to college next year. “Sad story!” said Stanley, and I thought the worst – accidents.

But no, it was stolen bikes. One taken after only a day, and then another stolen from the garage after 4 days. Evidently bikes are hot item…  and these kids need good locks.

Lana, hanging around the pump track, said she loved riding her bike but the chain was broken. Others chimed in with tales of punctures, etc. Happily, the Bikes in Schools programme, with its centrally held and maintained fleet, means these children get a great chance to ride uninterrupted – but once again Teau Aiturau’ s approach rings true: “Give a kid a bike, and they’ll ride it till they get a flat. Teach a kid to fix a bike, and they’ll ride it for life.”

Tamaki BiS opening May 2015_9-1Congratulations to Assistant Principal Michelle Fepuleai who picked up this initiative with Bikes in Schools, the which guides the whole process including getting skills and sponsors on board. Happy riding to the young folk of Tamaki!

PS The neighbourhood around Tamaki Primary – Glen Innes, Pt. England and Tamaki itself – is a great riding area. It’s pretty flat, and boasts quite a few off-road rides through parks. The proposed Greenway alongside Tamaki Estuary would add to the options for accessing schools, sports parks and pools, especially if it’s built wide enough for comfortable shared use. If you are out that way or just need an excuse for a jaunt, visit the amazing new Te Oro Youth Music & Arts Centre for Young People in GI (great video of the opening here) – it’s adjacent to the library and across from the main shopping centre on the Line Road side.

– Jane Admore

Keen to hear more about Bikes in Schools? Check out this recent Radio NZ show about their work in Wellington, and read Pippa Coom’s account of Freeman’s Bay School‘s new bike track. 

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Bikes in Schools East Auckland
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