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Parents worried about safety of school cyclists

Sam Coughlan
Students can be at risk of many dangers on the way to school  Joey Dwyer

Some primary school parents are concerned about the safety of their children while biking to school.

With Christchurch’s flat landscape and numerous cycleways, biking is becoming a popular way for students to get to school. 

But not all parents are happy to let their precious kids make their way onto the roads like this. One dad, with two kids aged 8 and 10 at St Martins Primary says while they do bike, he accompanies them on the way there and they only take the back roads. He is very worried about safety and says his oldest son is only just at an age where he can bike home alone.

"There are huge trucks and buses going along there… we really don’t want to get flattened by them."

The Christchurch City Council does offer cycle safety courses in over 80 schools in the city to help those who bike. However, Transport Operations Manager Stephen Wright says the course isn’t offered annually, and some schools offer it only every two or three years.

The cycle safety programme is currently only for Year 6 pupils (age 10), but Wright says there are opportunities for older students if the instructors don’t get fully booked. There are currently no plans to offer the full programme to younger children but Wright recommends an adult supervises the child until they’re confident and capable enough to bike on their own.

Kirsty Frew’s two kids attend Hillview Christian School, but only her eldest, aged 13, is confident enough to brave the three kilometre stretch of Centaurus Road and has been biking for three years.

"It helps with their health and fitness, independence too."
Kirsty Frew

Her 11-year-old daughter has completed the council’s Cycle Safety course, but thinks it’s still ‘too scary’ to bike all the way to school by herself. Frew says she is still independent, preferring to walk or scooter to Hillview but these ways are not as quick as biking.

Wright says that the Cycle Safety programme is currently not offered to age groups below Year 6 – unless in certain circumstances. Sometimes they deliver the first part of the course to Year 5 students, which doesn’t involve an on-road test. 

Frew believes it’s important for kids to be educated on cycle safety but thinks that most students shouldn’t be biking to school before the course is available. She worries about the dangers of Centaurus Road where she lives – roundabouts, narrow streets and sometimes even a lack of bike lanes make it a dangerous stretch of road.

These concerns are shared by our initial parent – who says his kids are fine biking to St Martins while supervised – but thinks that even when they’re in high school it might be too dangerous.

He wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on them tackling the busy roads at rush hour around Cashmere High School – where he anticipates he’ll send them, and he is apprehensive about letting them bike.

"Some of those roads are pretty busy and there’s a lot of traffic… I’m really worried."