Saturday, June 15, 2024

Whanganui gets on yer bike education programme

Close to 7,000 Whanganui students have benefited from a cycling education package delivered by Mā Ake Let’s Go ­– part of Whanganui District Council’s active transport programme.

Mā Ake Let’s Go is in its fifth year of delivering the BikeReady programme to all Whanganui schools. The national cycling education programme is funded by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

Let’s Go active transport facilitator, Norman Gruebsch says 31 Whanganui schools have participated, involving 6,814 students. Of those, 1,454 students have gone on to complete grade two – using quiet streets and shared pathways to get around town.

“The Whanganui Multisport Club Ltd has done a great job of delivering the BikeReady programme to the community. As a key partner they deserve much credit for BikeReady’s success in Whanganui during the past five years,” he said.

Mr Gruebsch says one of the highlights has been the organisation’s input into moving students from basic skills in grade one, to gaining confidence and knowledge at grade two, to regularly use cycling as a transport option.

Grade two learning has involved group rides along Te Tuaiwi shared pathway, with students demonstrating good cycling etiquette, becoming familiar with the shared pathway and learning how to cross safely at intersections.

Let’s Go coach, Greg Fromont says watching the students’ skillsets and road abilities grow has been rewarding.

“The bonus is watching their confidence and self-esteem grow with it,” he says.

Fellow Let’s Go coach, Elaine Baker agrees: “It is such a great buzz to watch a kid light up when they put everything together and can ride all by themselves.”

Te Tuaiwi is a three-metre-wide sealed concrete pathway that provides a safe route across Whanganui City Bridge, through town and past some central schools. It links with other city pathways, including the London Street shared pathway and is part of a growing urban cycleway network.

Cyclist movements along Te Tuaiwi peak around school hours, with statistics showing more than 100 cyclist counts per day on average using Te Tuaiwi.

Whanganui Intermediate School principal, Katherine Ellery says the programme’s focus on using shared pathways has led to more students cycling to and from the intermediate school.

“We regularly have over 100 bikes and almost as many scooters at the school,” said Ms Ellery.

The Whanganui Multisport Club Ltd’s current three-year contract finishes at the end of this school year.

The council has received funding approval from Waka Kotahi for the next three-year block – from 2021/22 to 2023/24. The Mā Ake Let’s Go programme contract will go out for tender soon with interested organisations encouraged to submit.

More information about Whanganui’s shared pathways can be found here.

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