The University of Tasmania and Bicycle Network have banded together to develop a riding confidence program that aims to get more staff and students commuting more often.
With its move into the city centres of Launceston and Hobart, the university is keen to help its staff and students to access more transport choices.
The Ride2Uni program was piloted last year and delivered in first semester this year on a limited timeline and budget to further refine its operation.
The program is directed towards people who would like to ride a bike to university but lack the confidence in their riding ability and/or knowledge of road rules. This is often people who have not ridden for many years, people who ride recreationally but not for transport or international and interstate arrivals who want to be supported as they get used to riding in Tasmania.
Lais Steiernagel, a student from Brazil studying in Launceston, fits the profile of the type of people who would get the most out of the program. She signed up for the Road Riding session to refresh her riding skills, better understand the road rules and get to know routes in Launceston.
“I signed up because I like everything involving bikes. I have had all types of bikes since I was 3 years old.
“My lifestyle in Tasmania does not help me to own a bike so I was really excited to ride for the first time here. I participated in cycling groups in my country Brazil and used to cycle by myself in Sydney, but not here,” Ms Steiernagel said.
The program is delivered in two streams:
- Bike Basics, which runs participants through drills to improve their braking, indicating, gear use, turning and control
- Road Riding, which takes people on guided rides between accommodation and campuses on quieter routes utilising paths and demonstrates road positioning, road rules, awareness of other users and indicating.
Other international students enjoyed a Bike Basics session at the Sandy Bay campus although about half were beginners rather than people whose skills were just rusty.
This proved a challenge for the instructor and helping volunteer but also demonstrated the demand for a potential third stream for the program: Learn to Ride.
Bicycle Network will now work with the university to further develop the program with the aim of rolling it out more widely in the second half of the year.