Ride2School Day to remember – Tassie gets funding!

This year's National Ride2School Day will be one to remember, with the Tasmanian Government announcing funding so that the Ride2School program can continue in the state for another year.

As more than 350,000 students ditched the car or bus and jumped on their bikes for a national celebration, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman made the $100,000 funding announcement at Clarendon Vale Primary School on Hobart’s Eastern Shore.

He also presented 12 bikes to the school on behalf of Bicycle Network.

The announcement comes after some intense lobbying by Bicycle Network, its members and allies since funding for the pilot program ended in July 2016.

Mr Hodgman said his Government wanted to see Tasmania become the healthiest State in the nation and the Ride2School program directly supported this goal.

“Ride2School is a great campaign that encourages active and healthy school communities,” he said.

Since Ride2School was launched in 2015, many participating schools have reported an increase in the number of students being active.

“My Government is also a strong supporter of cycling safety initiatives with $5 million over four years to improve cycling safety on our roads,” he said.

“I commend Bicycle Network for the Ride2School program and their role in encouraging Tasmanians to keep active.”

Bicycle network Chief Executive Officer Craig Richards was at Clarendon Vale to hear the good news.

“Ride2School can now continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring the Government’s Healthy Tasmania Five-Year Strategy achieves its target of making Tasmania the healthiest state in the nation by 2025,” Mr Richards said.

“This program shows just what can be achieved with a whole-of-government approach. Ride2School delivers on road safety, health and wellbeing and education where it counts – in the early years where we can build good habits that are life-long.

“This is a critical time for Tasmania in preventative health, and the Government has shown, with this funding support, that it recognises it will take community partnerships to achieve success.

“The National Health Survey of 2014-15 — the latest available data — shows an increase in the proportion of Tasmanian children who are overweight or obese, from 18.6 per cent in 2007-8 to 29.8 per cent in 2014-15.”

More than 3,000 primary school students from across Australia benefited from the Ride2School program in 2015-16.

“That number has continued to grow as we decided to continue with a pared-back program from July 2016,” Mr Richards said.

“As a not-for-profit, membership organisation, our resources were limited without Government support,“ he said.

“We could not have continued the momentum without the backing of the RACT over the past eight months.

“That partnership clearly recognises the road safety as well as the health and wellbeing benefits of Ride2School.”

“We have also had the backing of the North Melbourne Football Club, with players recently supporting the program at three southern Tasmanian schools.”

Mr Richards said Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding had rolled out significant cycling road safety initiatives and his support was critical in having the funding renewed.

“Our team in Tasmania will continue to work closely with the Minister to get maximum benefit from Ride2School in educating children about road safety,” he said.

For more photos from across the country, visit Flickr or check out all the action as it unfolded on Twitter using @bicycle_network and #Ride2School.