“If we go for a cycle, where could we go?”
This question was posed to P5 and P6 pupils at Ferryhill Primary school in March 2016. They were also asked “What skills might we need for our cycle?” and “What routes might be best for us to take”? From the answers to these questions we created Project Bike, a five week project with the end-goal of embarking on a meaningful journey.
By working intensively with one class, we were able to really grasp the barriers to cycling and tackle many of these during the project. Pupils without bikes could borrow one from the school fleet, pupils who could not ride got additional support and worked with volunteers to learn. Pupils without helmets and locks could buy them cheaply through Sustrans. Every pupil learned how to fix a puncture and check their bikes, how to use a map to plan a safe and enjoyable journey, what clothes to wear whilst cycling, and most importantly how to cycle safely on roads and cycle routes. They also learned how to be ambassadors for cycling, to share space with other road and path users, to show their appreciation when others give way, to make extra room for those who need it and to ride safely and courteously in a large group.
Prior to taking part in the I Bike project pupils at Ferryhill were discouraged from cycling to school. Through this project we were able to raise awareness of the benefits of cycling with the pupils involved, and also with the school staff and wider school community. A number of pupils who took part in the project subsequently bought bikes, and many of them continue to travel to school by bike regularly. Deputy Head Teacher Susan Reid claimed that “pupils are now so much more confident and it’s all down to people supporting and encouraging them, there’s a nice, friendly atmosphere going on”.
And where did they choose to go on our meaningful journey? To the beach for an ice-cream of course!