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Active Transport Grows in Let's Go Schools

Thursday 27 December 2012, 1:19PM

By New Plymouth District Council

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NEW PLYMOUTH

The district’s primary schools are becoming more active under the Council’s Let’s Go programme – and parents are being encouraged to build on those good habits during summer.

Of the 15 Let’s Go schools in the district, eight in New Plymouth and Bell Block have been surveyed on their students transport use before Let’s Go programmes began during the last two years, and again in the last couple of months.

Let’s Go Project Manager Carl Whittleston says the change in transport among the students is impressive: Across all eight schools surveyed, the percentage of children who are driven to school by car has dropped from 64 per cent to 34 per cent.

“We were aiming for an initial 10 to 20 per cent increase in active transport in these schools so the change is beyond our expectations,” he says.

“The schools have really bought into the concept and have built Let’s Go into the curriculum, have improved their facilities such as entranceways and storage for bikes and scooters, and have really got the parents on board as well.

“Our active transport maps for each school are very handy too, as they show good routes for walking and cycling, and places where not to cross the road.”

The students are also eager to fill in their travel tickets, collecting a stamp for each time they walk, cycle or scoot to school or get dropped off further away from school to walk in.

“One parent told me she wanted to drive her children to school but they wouldn’t let her because they were close to getting 50 or 100 stamps on their travel tickets,” he says.

“These kids are at the vanguard of the community effort to improve our active transport efforts in the long-term.”

The most popular mode of active transport among primary school-aged children is scooters. “They’re easier than bikes to put in the back of a car, it’s legal to ride them on a footpath and the balancing skills are easy for kids of primary school age”

Mr Whittleston says the summer holidays is a good time for parents check their children’s bikes, scooters, helmets and other equipment, and to have them keep practising their cycling and scooter skills.

“Get the kids to show you what they have learned,” he says. “We’ve got plenty of shared pathways and this is a good time of year to hop on your bikes and enjoy them with your children, and reinforce those key skills that will stick with them for life.”

The eight schools that have been surveyed are Welbourn, Vogeltown, Bell Block, St Joseph’s, Puketapu, Frankley, St Pius and West End schools. Let’s Go activities in the schools have included bike and scooter skills training and basic bike maintenance.

Let’s Go is funded jointly by the NZ Transport Agency and NPDC to develop active transport options throughout the district.