Big increase in number of students riding to school at end of trial at shire schools

Woolooware Primary School bike riders with Cr Carmelo Pesce and Rideability teacher Elisabeth Appelman. Picture: Chris Lane
Woolooware Primary School bike riders with Cr Carmelo Pesce and Rideability teacher Elisabeth Appelman. Picture: Chris Lane

The number of children riding bikes to school has increased substantially during an eight-week trial of a new program.

Woolooware Public School and Sutherland North Public School took part in the the Cycle to School project, which was a joint initiative of Sutherland Shire Council and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).

When the project was launched at the start of the first term this year, about 15 pupils at Sutherland North Public School were riding to school.

By the end of the program, the number had grown to 45.

Fifty pupils are riding to Woolooware Public School, compared with about five previously [The Leader was told in February the number was about 12].

Rideability Cycle Education conducted skills training in physical education classes for pupils in years 4, 5 and 6.

The council and RMS shared the $35,000 cost

Mayor Carmelo Pesce said the trial had been “a huge success”.

“The project has exceeded its targets of reducing vehicle dependency at school drop off and pick-up times, with both schools seeing great results,” he said.

“Encouraging more children to cycle to school has major health, safety, social, environmental and traffic benefits that meets the objectives of the RMS, NSW Health and Council.”

Sutherland North Public School principal Fiona Young said, ““The program has been an overwhelming success”.

“We have more students riding to and from school, meaning our children are moving more, which makes them more focussed to learn by the time they come to do their school work.  

“We have also received great feedback from the wider school community.”

Woolooware Public School principal Jason Ezzy said parents were grateful the program was offered, as many viewed cycle and road education as important as swimming lessons and water safety.

“The students have been very excited and engaged for the whole term and it has been extra special to see those students who could not ride a bike, learn and become independent riders.”

Mr Ezzy said one parent told him prior to the program, her child would not go anywhere near a bike, but now loved riding.

A Woolooware pupil said she and he brother now loved riding so much they were teaching their brother, who is in kindergarten, how to ride a bike and safe techniques.

Rideability Cycle Education director Rebecca Randazzo said the success could lead to more RMS funding to expand the program to other shire schools.

Ms Randazzo said, in three years delivering these type of programs, they had found many pupils could not ride a bike at the start of the program.

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