Saturday, February 02, 2013

Children on track to a healthier commute - Amy McNeilage

WHEN Bourke Street Public School opened its gates for a new year this week, bright blue polo shirts flooded off the Surry Hills street. Many students pushed bikes and scooters, having hopped off the cycleway that passes the school.
By the 9am bell, the playground walls were lined with bikes.
The school started its bike program less than two years ago and already at least a third of students ride to school on an average day. Most who don't ride walk.
The principal, Peter Johnston, says cycling has become an important part of the growing school's identity.
''It's improving their health, fitness and lifestyle,'' he said.
Lydia Ho, whose sons Arki and Ren attend the school, runs bike education programs with the students.
''They're not sitting in their big cars getting driven,'' she said. ''And they're engaging with their environment - meeting shop owners, saying hi to people on the street - and being part of the community.''
Leah Tansey, who commutes by bike with her six-year-old daughter, Emily, says she was initially concerned about safety.
''When we first started riding, it was a little bit scary. [Other cyclists] didn't seem to be that cautious around children,'' she said. ''[But] I think they have become much more aware that there are children on the track and they have much better bike manners now.''