Record set in Taupo
A record 14 kids of Kids Bike Taupo, some riding donated bikes, learnt to ride for the first time at Hilltop School in May 2015. Lots of parents were there to help, making it a real community effort.
Kids BT came about some time ago, when Taupo District Council was running after-schools activities. Local legend Cath Oldfield sorted out a collection of bikes, then a van to bring them to schools. Now, it's reaching out to thousands of kids- Cath reckons about 13,000 since November 2012, with 300 kids learning to ride from scratch. That's a lot of kids able to move and control their bike before getting out on the road, where they'll then be ready to concentrate on traffic and safety.
And it doesn't stop there. Every Monday afternoon Cath has the Random Ratbags session - kids aged from 3 to 16, who are usually at a loose end after school, get free access to the BMX track in Crown Park. Some have their own bikes but others are supplied with bike and helmet by Kids BT. This is the only opportunity many of these kids have to ride a bike and being on the -usually locked- BMX Track is a big draw card.
In the background giving support and help are the talented folks at Bike Taupo, set up 12 years ago to build a MTB track between Taupo and Huka Falls and be a voice for biking in Taupo, and now a formidable organisation that builds trails, advocates for biking and organises community projects. Bike Taupo liaise closely with Council, seeking leadership and making submissions, for example to the recent Long Term Plan consultation. They're currently working on mapping and developing urban cycling routes.
Looking at how much work is done in NZ on voluntary trail building for mountain biking, chair Rowan Sapsford wonders if there isn't an idea there for creating on-road cycle infrastructure. If Councils can't afford to do it, then could cyclists get the legal approval, do the designs to the right standards (or better!) and put all that volunteer energy to good use!? An interesting thought indeed!