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West Coast shows the way

5 May 2015. They’re a hardy bunch at Strahan on Tasmania’s West Coast.  

At 8.30 am last Thursday, there they were in shorts and short-sleeved shorts, just itching to go.

Admittedly there were a few fleecy jackets, and parents were rugged up in scarves and puffer jackets but just about every member of the 60-strong primary school population was lightly dressed in anticipation of a good warm-up before class.

It was a brilliant turnout for the first Bicycle Network Ride2School program in a Tasmanian school and, notwithstanding the early-morning chill, Strahan put on its best sunny face.

It was once a tough mining port and fishing village and while fishing and aquaculture has given it new life, it is tourism that has really put it on the map.

Rail has left a tourism legacy as well – the historic ABT tourist railway which runs from Strahan to Queenstown and the old rail formation that runs from Regatta Point across the bay to the heart of the village that is now a high-grade shared pathway. 

That was one of the three routes to school, all of them marked with on-path stickers to guide the students.

Principal Monicka Lee was effusive in her praise of the program. As she said, one moment the school yard was empty then she turned to see bikes and scooters pouring through the gates, closely followed by walkers – both students and parents. She also admitted that the bike she has stored at home will need to be given more track time.

The Bicycle Network team worked with the school to establish part-way drop-off starting points marked with flags which were communicated through an engaging map. This was complemented by ACTIVEpaths decal stickers marking the routes to school, along with ‘STOP,LOOK,LISTEN,THINK’ reminders at decision points.

This helped students and families use the maps, showed the best places to cross the road, and helpful hints on how to do this safely.

There was extra help in that regard at one crossing point. The local police constable made sure everyone was safe crossing the Esplanade.

All this was backed up back at the school—after a healthy breakfast in the canteen—by a quick classroom lesson.

Bicycle Network’s Jeff McPhan and Veronica Nunez, who organised the event in collaboration with the school’s enthusiastic business manager Bek van der Neut, gave a presentation on bike safety. 

Facing 60 primary school students, from prep to grade 6, sitting on a classroom floor for 30 minutes is one tough gig. But there was hardly a bored wriggle in the room.

The school will record each day those students who continue to ride, scooter or walk to school and there is a class trophy up for grabs.

Bicycle Network and the school had two key partners in the enterprise: the motoring organisation RACT and the West Coast Council.

There are two reasons for RACT’s involvement: its traditional priority to ensure roads are a safe environment for children and motorists, and its significant investment in tourism in Strahan since buying the Federal Group’s assets in the town.

Ride2School takes strides in Strahan

23 April 2015. Lucky students at Strahan Primary School on Tasmania's west coast have been chosen to participate in a Ride2School pilot project aimed at encouraging them to bike, walk or scoot to school each day.

The initiative, to be launched next Thursday (30 April), is a partnership between Bicycle Network’s Ride2School program, the  Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT) and Strahan Primary School.

The active travel trial will help students get their recommended dose of daily physical activity, and educate school communities on road safety for bike riders.

As part of the initiative, Ride2School’s ACTIVEmaps and footpath markers are being used to show the most direct way to Strahan Primary School.

Workshops will also be held educate students (and their parents) on good bike riding habits and road safety.

RACT community engagement and education manager Kathy Stocks said the RACT had been working with the Bicycle Network to develop and deliver the program for primary schools around Tasmania.

“Delivering messages to primary school aged children is a big priority for the RACT and it helps ensure our roads are a safe environment for children and motorists alike,” Ms Stocks said.

“We use footpath signage to help students and families use the maps, showing them the best places to cross the road and providing helpful hints on how to do this safely,” she said.

Bicycle Network’s General Manager of Behaviour Change Gemma McCrohan said encouraging students to actively travel to school boosts independence in a supportive environment and is a crucial part of their development.

“Students who ride or walk to school arrive energised, alert and more ready to learn than those who don’t,” Ms McCrohan said.

Strahan Primary School Principal Monicka Lee said students were excited about being the first school to be part of the Ride2School initiative.

“The students at Strahan Primary School are really excited to be working with the Ride2School team and are privileged to have the support of RACT and the West Coast Council on this fantastic initiative,” Ms Lee said.

The Ride2School initiative also has the support of West Coast Council. Mayor Phil Vickers said the pilot project was a “great idea.”

“To encourage students to ride or walk to school and to do it safely by following placed markers is great for bicycle safety and healthy for the children. The council at its last meeting resolved that the General Manager liaise with both parties to implement the program,” Mr Vickers said.

School’s back, so be careful out there

29 January 2015

Schools resume this week around Australia so drivers need to be extra careful on the streets and around schools, particularly as more and more students are keen to bike and walk to school for healthy exercise.

But at the same time that communities are trying to encourage more children to get active and ride to school, many parents are creating mayhem at the school gateway, insisting on trucking their children to school by car.

The Victorian Government has made a special plea this week for parents to calm down around schools.

According to VicRoads data, 350 people were injured—82 of them seriously—at and near schools during school hours in 2012 - the latest period analysed.

Although school zones comprise just a fraction of then state’s roads, they are among the most hazardous for road users.

It is a pointed irony that those at risk around school precincts are at risk from parents who drive their children to the school because they think that walking or riding to school is a risk.

If more children walked and rode to school, and less were driven, safety would improve.

As school has started back, the Ride2School program is gearing up for another year. Ride2School supports thousands of schools across Australia to create and maintain an active travel culture. It can help parents and schools make encouraging walking and riding to school quick and easy.

You can get all the details from the Ride2School website.

 

National Ride2School Day Awards

15 May 2014. For this years National Ride2School Day event, we offered up three very big prizes for Victorian schools, valued at $5,000 each. The prizes included, a choice of bike parking, a new bike shed, class set of bikes or BIke Ed training.  We had over 100 submissions from teachers to why there school deserved one of these prizes.  Sadly there could only be three winners. The lucky winners are;

  • Surfside Primary School
  • Templestowe Park Primary School
  • Rye Primary School

Each of these schools presented an amazing submission. Principal of Rye Primary school Mark Warner was thrilled to be one of the lucky three. Rye Primary school have worked with the Ride2School program since 2008 to encourage more students to actively travel and have seen a steady increase in the number of students riding and walking to school.

Congratulations to each of these schools, we hope to see the number of students actively travelling to your school grow. For more information on how we can support your school, contact us today.

Good2Go Success

21 April 2014. Over the April school holidays, we were a busy bunch running two Good2Go bike ed courses in the City of Port Phillip and Mitchell Shire in Seymour. Over these two course, we had over 75 students complete the course. Our Good2Go course is designed to provide each student with the knowledge and skill to become more confident on the journey to school. While the course is focused on bike riding, the knowledge gained from the course is applicable to scooting, skating and walking.

children riding bicycles

Each of the students were asked to complete a quick survey about their skill level and confidence before and after the course. After completing the course, there was a 62% increase in their general confidence and a 50% increase about their knowledge of the road rules and other users.

If you'd like to know more about the Good2Go course, contact us today.

National Ride2School Day Success

21 March 2014

We'd like to say congratulations and a BIG thank you to all the schools who took part in the eighth National Ride2School Day, Australia's largest celebration of active travel. To show our appreciation, we've made this short film about the day! Enjoy!

Find out more about National Ride2School Day.