School has not yet begun for 2021, but CycleSafe Mount Alexander and Bike Bendigo are gearing up to support students to ride from day one.
Early last year, Bike Bendigo introduced the On Your Bike! school holiday program, supporting teens and tweens to ride safely to school. The program will run in Castlemaine again this summer, funded by Healthy Heart of Victoria and Mount Alexander Shire.
Teens and tweens love the independence a bike brings. That was the impetus for 11-year-old Sophie to attend the On Your Bike! program for teens and tweens in September last year.
“Being able to travel independently is going to be essential in our family,” says Sophie’s mother Meg.
“Sophie’s enjoying more independence as she gets older and I thought it would be beneficial to improve her road safety and riding skills with support.”
The On Your Bike! school holiday program begins with a focus on bike control skills. It also covers road law for cyclists and strategies for riding safely in traffic (including how to negotiate intersections and roundabouts safely), as well as plenty of supported on-road practise.
Meg reports that Sophie feels much more secure on her bike since attending the program.
“She rides more often and more confidently,” Meg says.
“And it gave me added security that she knew how to do it safely. We’d recommend it!”
One of the reasons for developing the On Your Bike program for teens and tweens was that, in Victoria, children are not legally allowed to ride on footpaths once they turn 13. But most young teens don’t have much experience negotiating traffic.
The aim is to support students to develop the skills and knowhow to ride safely on roads when they have to, and also to learn how to choose low-risk environments.
Sophie mostly avoids riding on roads, but she does need to for short bursts, as Meg explains: “We plan around how she can get places on bike paths, but sometimes it’s not possible to ride exclusively on bike paths.
“Sophie rides to so many places now – after school activities, her aunt’s or friends’ places. Anywhere she can ride to, she’ll ride to.”
The On Your Bike! holiday program for teens and tweens will run in Castlemaine over two half-day sessions on January 20 and 21. Visit CycleSafe Mount Alexander’s Facebook page for details.
By Nicola Dunnicliff-Wells