Submitted by: Dave Stevens
Getting daily exercise has many positive benefits for a child’s mental and physical health. Creating a lifelong habit of daily cycling can be a fun way to create a healthy habit at a young age. If you live in Hamilton’s North End, you may have seen an innovative new program that’s meeting these goals and helping students get active in a fun way. That program? The Daily School Ride (DSR).
The DSR is an active transportation system that launched at its first school, Bennetto Elementary in the fall of 2016. The DSR is organized and managed by Bike for Mike and New Hope Community Bikes. Both of these organizations work to promote safe and accessible cycling to Hamilton students.
The main goal of the DSR is to encourage and support 100% of students living within cycling distance to bike to school daily. A broader goal of the program is to encourage and support collaboration between students and their local community to create and advocate for a safe environment for cycling.
Students are encouraged to sign up to take part in the DSR program with their parent’s permission. Once they are formally registered, each take part in certified cycle training conducted by New Hope Community Bikes. When students are “ride ready” they are trained to use the Ride Along group ride format. The Ride Along allows groups of students to be supervised on their ride into school by specially trained adults. The training and supervised Ride Alongs are the first step to creating a community of confident cyclists.
To ensure students are safe on their daily rides to school, safe routes are established using mapping tools that take into account traffic and existing infrastructure like bike lanes, crosswalks, and traffic lights. As new students sign up safe routes are established to support their part of the neighbourhood.
The team of volunteers behind the DSR help to develop safe local cycling by interacting with students, parents, schools, and the local community. The many program components of the DSR work together to nurture a safe, supportive, and thriving local cycling community. Our programming provides comprehensive student cycle training and ongoing support to ride to school safely; gives parents and schools the tools and information needed to support their students to create a daily habit of cycling; and works with the North-End community to support their younger neighbours when riding to school and equips students with cycle experience so they can advocate for necessary infrastructure improvements in their neighbourhood and city.
The DSR is run by Bike for Mike and New Hope Community Bikes. Both of these organizations have been working to promote safe and accessible cycling in Hamilton. Since Bike for Mike’s first fundraising ride in 2011, they have donated over 2250 bikes, helmets and locks to students in Hamilton, 500 of which went to students in the North-End. These donations have helped promote cycling and create access for those without bikes. Our program partner New Hope Community Bikes has extensive experience providing youth with comprehensive cycle training. They have run cycle training programs since 2013, and trained students at many schools in Hamilton. They are a leader in creating confident and capable student cyclists through their cycle training programs.
For More information about the Daily School Ride go to BikeforMike.org or NewHopeCommunityBikes.com
To get involved contact Alex@BikeforMike.org.