26 Jan 2021

Bikes in Schools: best thing ever

From Nine To Noon, 9:32 am on 26 January 2021

Mass bike-riding is the best thing that's ever happened to Titahi Bay School, says its principal Kerry Delaney.

Thanks to the national initiative Bikes in Schools, more than 1,300 students from six primary schools in Titahi Bay and East Porirua can now ride a bike.

Riding bikes in the open air is good for the children on a number of levels, Delaney tells Kathryn Ryan.

"The kids come to school and they feel good ... Whatever has gone wrong at home, no matter who's told you off, once you get on that bike you leave some of that stuff behind. It's invigorating."

"When they get out there it makes a difference to their learning. They get rid of stuff that's in their head, they feel good … and if you're angry about something in life, get out on a bike."

One student was so overweight he couldn't lift his leg high enough to get on a bike, Delaney says. A special bike was built for him.

"That boy lost 22 kilos by the time he left our school but better than that he was riding all over Titahi Bay. Wonderful."

Porirua East doesn't yet have the infrastructure for safe cycling, but the programme Pedal Ready Cycle Skills shows kids how to stay safe, says local cycling advocate Chris Te'o.

He was overweight and a heavy smoker living in New Caledonia when participating in the cycle leg of a triathlon "nearly killed him" before he became a convert.

Visiting his former primary school in the Porirua suburb of Cannons Creek, Te'o.realised bike-riding could be beneficial for the whole community.

He later founded USO Bike Ride - a community group supporting Pasifika and Māori families.

Te'o hopes Porirua will eventually have a purpose-built cycling hub.

"For us, it's been transformational so we knew it would be transformational for those kids."