It was all smiles at Point England School this week, with the formal launch of their new bike track and bike fleet, thanks to the wonderful Bikes in Schools programme.
Point England is the 20th Auckland school to be so lucky – with five more fully funded and ready to go (Whangaparaoa Primary’s bike track opens on 1 March), and another two dozen currently fund-raising. Each school gets a full package of kids’ bikes in different sizes, plus helmets; bike skills training and a bike track to practice skills on; and secure storage for the bikes within school grounds.
It’s all accomplished under the auspices of the Bike On Trust, and paid for by fundraising and generous donations. So, for example, Pt England’s project was underwritten by a $30,000 grant from the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board; NZTA ($15K from their Bikes in Schools Fund) and Auckland Transport ($3,000 to cover staff training), as well as a $5K grant from the Lion Foundation, and Variety – the Children’s Charity & Dimension Data donated 50 bikes and 50 helmets (value $10,500).
As Toni Dale, the Regional Project Manager for Bikes in Schools puts it, “The outcomes of all this bike riding by the students are simple – increased health, fitness, skills, safety, confidence and self-esteem.”
We’d say another KPI is the width of the smiles on those young faces… and how soon they’re confidently out and about in their neighbourhood.
Along with the kids from Tamaki Primary, these young people will be able to enjoy the planned Tamaki Path, a wonderful waterside greenway to practice on – and Te Ara ki Uta ki Tai is a growing gateway to the rest of the city’s cycle network. But how soon will local streets be calm and safe enough for these kids to ride to school in the huge numbers we all remember from childhood?
That’s up to all of us: you get what you build for, and if Aucklanders want a more bikeable city, we need to tell our Council and government loud and clear that this really, really matters. Wouldn’t it be great if the city was as keen as these young people?
For more information about Bikes in Schools or to support their good work, visit the Bike On website.