Did you ride a bike when you were a kid? Do you remember the freedom and fun?
I remember learning to ride a bike at my grandmother's house in Whanganui. I set myself the goal of riding around the house 50 times. I got a growling for making a rut in the lawn, but it was worth it.
Sadly, many New Zealand children miss out on biking. They lose the opportunity to develop fitness, independence, risk management and social skills. They miss out on the fun of exploring their neighbourhood under their own steam.
The Ministry of Transport says that the number of secondary school students cycling to school fell from 19 percent in 1989 to just 3 percent by 2015. For primary students the number fell to 2 percent. I reckon that's a disgrace, but we can fix it.
Cycling Action Network says getting kids biking to school is a top priority. How will we achieve this?
Invest in cycling
CAN advocates to the Government and Councils to fund and build quality cycleways. We talk about the 3 Cs - cycleways need to be convenient, connected and comfortable to ride.
We are making progress: the Government and Councils are investing around $350 million in 50 cycling projects in 15 cities, with the aim of increasing the number of bike trips by 10 million by 2019. So you can expect to see a lot more green paint on the road – or bright pink in the case of Auckland's iconic Light Path.
Adopt Vision Zero
CAN has called for a fresh approach to road safety. We know that one of the top barriers to cycling is traffic danger. With road deaths increasing again after many years of progress, we say it's time for Vision Zero. This aims to achieve a transport system with no fatalities or serious injuries. This builds on the current Safe Systems approach, and puts safety at the heart of transport planning. Vision Zero means safer speeds such as 30 km/h in residential streets.
Bikes in Schools
Getting kids biking at school is also part of the solution. Paul McArdle, founder of the Bikes in Schools project, says he has yet to meet a kid who doesn't want to ride a bike. Bikes in Schools has got more than 20,000 kids cycling regularly, by building bike tracks in school grounds, and providing bikes, helmets and instruction.
Expand bike skills instruction
I work part time as a cycle skills instructor for Pedal Ready. We work in schools and the community, showing kids and adults what they need to know to make more trips by bike. ACC and NZTA are preparing a business case to expand cycle skills instruction to reach more people.
With two-thirds of urban trips less than 6km, there's massive potential to grow cycling. As we build more cycleways and improve access to bike skills, New Zealand will be a place where we bike to the future.
Patrick Morgan, project manager at Cycling Action Network
caption: Kids love biking, but we need to do much more to give them the opportunity.