Kids learn bi­cy­cle safety

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SI­MON GINNS

Learn­ing the cor­rect skills early can help young rid­ers stay safe. It can also make them bet­ter and safer driv­ers later in life.

In early Septem­ber, Wah­gun­yah Pri­mary School stu­dents aged nine to 13 had the chance to learn the right way to ride.

In­struc­tor Glenn Clarke is a for­mer Olympian and Com­mon­wealth Games cy­cling gold medal­list. He works with Road Safe North East help­ing pri­mary school teach­ers de­liver a six-week train­ing pro­gram, part of the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment BikeEd scheme.

Each year Mr Clarke vis­its be­tween 25 to 30 schools and talks to more than 2,000 stu­dents in the north-east re­gion.

With a trailer load of bikes and sim­ple teach­ing aids, he shares a life­time of cy­cling knowl­edge and helps kids learn to stay safe on two wheels. The pro­gram in­cludes a class­room com­po­nent, phys­i­cal skills de­vel­op­ment and on-road prac­tice.

Stu­dents learn and prac­tice on an ac­tiv­ity course that can be set out in a space no big­ger than a net­ball court.

The bike ed­u­ca­tion trailer stays at each school for one week. Qual­i­fied teach­ers from each school de­liver the pro­gram con­tent for the fol­low­ing five weeks.

Rob­bie Allen is the Road Safe North East board mem­ber in charge of young driver pro­grams. For al­most 40 years he was VicRoads’ re­gional road safety co­or­di­na­tor.

Mr Allen is pas­sion­ate about youth ed­u­ca­tion and be­lieves there is a strong link be­tween safe cy­cling and good driv­ing habits.

“To be a good rider the kids have to have the skills to han­dle the bike, so a com­po­nent of the course is bal­ance and con­trol of the bike,” he said.

Mr Allen be­lieves the most im­por­tant learn­ing hap­pens un­der su­per­vi­sion once stu­dents and teach­ers hit the road.

“Young kids on bikes have no fear – they take risks. Put them in a pad­dock, put (up) some jumps and they don’t worry about look­ing what’s com­ing, they just look at the jump and get over it,” he said.

“Putting them on the road – at an in­ter­sec­tion or round­about – they have to un­der­stand that there is a risk there. That is why we par­tic­u­larly like on-road train­ing un­der su­per­vi­sion.”

Mr Allen also be­lieves that teach­ing chil­dren to avoid risky be­hav­iour early can have real ben­e­fits later in life.

“The age group 16 to 19 is when the real risk tak­ing hap­pens. If you wait un­til then to try and ed­u­cate them it is a bit late. The sooner you can ed­u­cate kids and get them to un­der­stand risk the bet­ter. So start­ing at nine or 10 with the BikeEd stuff is a good in­tro­duc­tion to get them to un­der­stand,” he said.

BikeEd is nor­mally taught to stu­dents aged nine to 13. This year the prin­ci­pal and teach­ers of Wah­gun­yah Pri­mary School made it pos­si­ble for ev­ery stu­dent to learn and prac­tice their bike skills on the BikeEd ac­tiv­ity course.

Bike ed­u­ca­tion is not com­pul­sory in Vic­to­rian schools. There is no equiv­a­lent pro­gram in the NSW schools cur­ricu­lum.

Learn­ing to ride a bike can give kids their first ex­pe­ri­ence of real free­dom, but while the new found in­de­pen­dence can be won­der­ful, it is not with­out risk.

Stu­dents try­ing to keep in a straight line.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.