Win­nipeg Bike Train

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Matthew Pioro

Cy­cling to school with con­fi­dence

In Oc­to­ber 2016, mem­bers of a Win­nipeg bike train in­vited peo­ple from city coun­cil, the school divi­sion and po­lice to ride roughly 3 km to River Heights Mid­dle School. The bike train con­sisted of five 12- to 13-year-old boys who ped­alled moun­tain bikes on their lo­cal roads.

“The grownups found the route sketchy,” said Jamie Hil­land, a par­ent of one of the boys and an or­ga­nizer of the bike train. “We start with a bike lane for one block. Then it dis­ap­pears onto a bridge where we’re forced onto three lanes of traf­fic. Then, there are four lanes. It’s tech­ni­cally res­i­den­tial, but busy.”

“When you get politi­cians to ride along with you,” Hil­land added, “and show them the chal­lenges kids face just try­ing to get to school, it can be a re­ally pow­er­ful learn­ing op­por­tu­nity.”

Hil­land works at the Green Ac­tion Cen­tre in Win­nipeg and is the chair of the na­tional Ac­tive and Safe Routes to School Pro­gram, which aims to get more chil­dren walk­ing and rid­ing. The bike train – a group of kids, and of­ten some par­ents, who find added safety in num­bers on a ride to school – came about not through his pro­fes­sional en­deav­ours, but be­cause his son wanted to go to a school far­ther away from their home. “I just had my dad hat on,” Hil­land said.

He reached out to friends via so­cial me­dia about the ride. He also charted a route, checked it out and then made sure all the rid­ers knew the right skills for the road, such as the proper hand sig­nals and lane po­si­tion­ing. All the boys wear hel­mets and have front and rear lights. Hil­land and the boys ran the train for seven weeks this past fall.

The train de­parted for school once again this past April, but things were slightly dif­fer­ent. “I only rode with them for a few days,” Hil­land said. “Then they said, ‘Yup, we can ride on our own.’ They were feel­ing con­fi­dent, do­ing lots of shoul­der check­ing and us­ing hand sig­nals. I had con­fi­dence they could do it on their own. So, now they’re in­de­pen­dent. They do their own bike train.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.