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Preparing kids to hit the streets

A Comox Valley student manoeuvres through a course during a Comox Valley Cycling Coalition safe cycling rodeo. About 745 kids have participated in the rodeos at Comox Valley Elementary schools since May. - Photo submitted
A Comox Valley student manoeuvres through a course during a Comox Valley Cycling Coalition safe cycling rodeo. About 745 kids have participated in the rodeos at Comox Valley Elementary schools since May.
— image credit: Photo submitted

The Comox Valley Cycling Coalition has been hitting the streets — and the elementary schools — to teach safe cycling skills to kids and adults.

The CVCC has been conducting safe cycling rodeos in Comox Valley elementary schools since May. To date, about 745 Grade 1 to 4 students from seven different schools have participated in the rodeos.

Coalition president Margaret Harris says it’s important to start teaching kids safe cycling rules at a young age.

“We would like to encourage youngsters to get into cycling, and we feel that if we’re going to do that we need to make sure that they learn safe cycling habits,” says Harris, adding even if kids aren’t cycling on busy streets, they still need to know the rules of the road.

“If they’re on quiet streets, there are still things that they need to know — like stopping at stop signs, looking out for driveways, watching out when they go past a parked car — then they’ve got some of the very basics in there and then hopefully we can build on that.”

After receiving a federal grant from the New Horizons for Seniors Program in April, the Cycling Coalition started conducting the safe cycling rodeos and offering adult safe cycling courses.

Adult safe cycling courses include: CanBike 1, CanBike 2 and Urban Cycling Skills.

The three courses vary in length from five hours to two days, and are designed to help cyclists feel more comfortable riding in traffic, among other things.

The adults trained in safe cycling are then able to volunteer as assistants in the safe cycling rodeos in schools.

One more CanBike 1 course will be held Saturday, Oct. 27, but the courses are wrapping up for the year due to fall and winter riding conditions.

The rodeos have finished for the year.

The CVCC plans to restart the programs once the weather improves again in March.

Because the grant funding will run out in March, the coalition is submitting a new grant proposal to bike manufacturer Norco in an effort to keep the programs going.

Courtenay council voted to write a letter in support of the grant application last week.

Harris says the courses have been popular; 93 people have taken the adult courses since May, and kids have responded well to the safe cycling rodeos.

The kids “love it. Our whole sort of ploy is yes we’re trying to teach them things, but a lot of emphasis is on they should be having fun,” says Harris.

“I think that’s a big part, is if you can teach kids anything through fun, through play, they learn more.”

She adds when kids learn safe cycling rules in the rodeos they often teach their parents as well, pointing out children are likely to remind their parents to wear helmets when they are taught how important it is to protect their heads.

For more information on the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition, safe cycling rodeos or the adult safe cycling courses, visit www.cyclecv.squarespace.com

 

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