Another popular, car free way to get to school is on a bicycle. Like walking, the benefits of biking are numerous: health and fitness, environmental, connection to community, fun and, by joining a cycling club, a great way to make friends. The main advantage for cyclists over pedestrians is that they can travel much more quickly. Of course, like walking, cycling must be done properly and safely to be an effective and long term form of transportation. Riding a bike is a little more complicated then lacing up the running shoes and pounding the pavement too, as cycling requires some learned skill and equipment.
The first piece of equipment you need to consider to become a cyclist is, of course, a bicycle, with a light. Then a helmet, then cycling gear including some reflective stripes. The best local source of information for all things bike related is the HUB.
The HUB ”… is a charitable organization, originally established in 1998 as a non-profit to address cycling issues in Metro Vancouver. Since then, we’ve grown a lot! We’ve educated thousands of children and adults and motivated thousands more.”
On the HUB website you’ll find lots of information for cyclists of all ages and skills, including what to look for in buying a bike and what types of education and training is available. The HUB connection for New Westminster, https://bikehub.ca/get-involved/groups-committees/new-westminster, includes information about monthly meetings, navigating New West’s hills and a list of news, current issues and also successes, like the education workshops at schools (2010-2012).
There are many types of training, including bike mechanics, and also the “bike to school” training classes geared to children 7 years and older, https://bikehub.ca/bike-to-school
Hmmm….I know where I’m heading with Lucan in a couple years, a HUB bike training class, we’ll both benefit from it to be the safest cyclists possible.
The HUB site also includes a section about the importance of, and how to choose, a properly fitted bike helmet. https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/helmet-safety-keep-lid-it
Basically, HUB is a “one stop shopping” experience for anyone considering putting their feet to the pedals to feel those sweaty muscles burn.
A partner organization to HUB is called Haste and is a “Hub for school travel” http://hastebc.org/. Whether your preferred mode of school transportation is two feet on pavement or two feet turning two wheels, Haste has lots of resources to help you on your way including the walking school bus and bike train.
Haste, in partnership with HUB, the City of New Westminster, ICBC and others, is actively involved in school travel planning to elementary schools and the two middle schools, and this model is being expanded to Bike Pool training plans for the middle schools students. http://hastebc.org/resources/school-travel-planning-new-westminster
Some key tips to remember to be a safe cyclist are: wear a properly fitted bike helmet, adjust your bike to fit, check your equipment and see and be seen. Cycling, done properly and safely, is a fun and healthy way to commute and in addition “…for children the benefits can stretch to increasing confidence and independence as well as establishing good travel habits that will last into adulthood.” http://www.celebratingcycling.org/more_info.asp?current_id=263
So what are you waiting for? Spring is sprung! Get out of the car and onto 2 wheels; it’ll be a great adventure, and you and your whole family will be glad you did.
I’ve linked more cycling articles here:
Check back for the next article entitled “Bus and school zone safety”.
Written by Karon Trenaman