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Bike On New Zealand
Bike On New Zealand
When corporate banker Paul McArdle returned to New Zealand after living in Europe for over a decade, he looked around and wondered what had happened to the days riding a bike was an essential part of a person’s life. McArdle said as a child going anywhere, “you went by bike. It’s that feeling of youth and fun and adventure and freedom.”
In November 2009 he and Meg Frater responded by founding Bike On New Zealand - a non-profit organization to help enable and assist more New Zealanders to experience the “joy of biking.”
Some challenges McArdle and Frater believed New Zealand was facing were health, education, and the environment. By living in Europe, they learned many of these issues could be mitigated through greater use of bicycles. Through Bike On New Zealand, they have been launching several no-profit projects to help encourage people to bike more, including – Teens on Bikes, Bikes in Schools, Police on Bikes and Bike on Flaxmere.
McArdle believes that by biking more, the people will gain the positive benefits that follow hand-in-hand – confidence, self esteem, health and fitness, and benefits to the environment.
Bikes in Schools
Bikes In schools is a unique image with the goal to provide all children in primary schools with regular access to bicycles, helmets and trails – all within the school environment.
St Mary’s school in Hastings, located on the North Island, was chosen as the pilot school – having been provided with 62 new bikes, 225 helmets, a dedicated staff resource, a 550m cycle track, two pump tracks, a skills track and a bike shed – all for free.
“The aim of the initiative is to encourage primary school pupils to become more active and healthy, help them develop various bike skills, build their self esteem and confidence” said Paul McArdle.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key officially launched the project Feb 19, 2010, saying, “If we can get youngsters engaged in sport… then you have a fitter nation, then you have not only healthier kids but ones that tend to not get themselves in trouble because they are focused on so many positive things like riding a bike.”
Feedback from parents, children and the faculty was overwhelmingly positive towards Bike On New Zealand.
Theresa Neilson, a teacher at St Mary’s School, said, “Now they’re thinking ‘right I can ride a bike, so therefore I can do this.’ They’re meeting challenges or seeing challenges as something they can work at and achieve.”. TVNZ said some children have even learned to ride their bikes without training wheels.
Bikes in Schools is supported and endorsed by the three most recognized biking organizations in New Zealand – Bike NZ, CAN, and the Ministry of Health and NZTA’s Bike Wise.
- Photos courtesy of Paul McArdle
- [TVNZ http://tvnz.co.nz/close-up/bikes-kids-3372374/video"Bikes for kids"]
- Bike On New Zealand
- Bikes In Schools