Saddling up for cycling scheme

30 September 15 / Victoria Brenan, Reporter /

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TEACHERS at a Kirkintilloch school have literally got on their bikes to help pupils pedal their way towards healthy futures.

St Ninian's High school pupils have been given 32 bikes and teachers have been trained as ride leaders to take groups cycling in the school grounds and beyond.

The innovative project has been praised by transport minister Derek Mackay, who visited the school to see it in action.

The bikes have been provided by Sustrans for a three year project to offer cycling as part of the PE curriculum.

Recent expeditions have included a trip to a volcanic stack near Campsie Glen for pupils who have been learning about volcanoes and regular rides along the Forth and Clyde Canal.

Vaughan Moody, responsible for development and regeneration at East Dunbartonshire council, said he was delighted at the work taking place to "inspire young people to saddle up for healthy lifestyles and dynamic learning experiences".

He added: "Including cycling as part of the PE curriculum is an innovative move and I'm sure it will lead to even more people discovering the joys of active travel.

"As a council we are delighted to be able to match-fund the I Bike project post and to support ongoing efforts to encourage young people to be active learners."

Derek Mackay said the project was clear evidence that the bike project was a real success.

He said: "Across Scotland, in more local authorities than ever before, up to 14,000 school pupils are participating in the scheme this year.

"Getting pupils excited about active travel, whether through the curriculum or on their day-to-day school journeys, is a key way forward if we are to meet our shared vision for cycling.

"By increasing funding for behaviour-change projects such as this we are helping to cut car journeys and carbon emissions while getting the nation healthier."

Sustrans cycling officer Donald Macdonald has been working with St Ninian's for just over a year on the project.

He said: "It has been great to see the school embracing the benefits of cycling so enthusiastically - with a number of trips already under their belts.

"I am particularly impressed with the level of commitment shown by staff across all departments, giving up their spare time to be trained to take the young people out on bikes.

"Our work in Scotland's schools is giving children the skills and confidence they need to get on a bike and journeys, is a key way forward if we are to meet our shared vision for cycling.

"By increasing funding for behaviour-change projects such as this we are helping to cut car journeys and carbon emissions while getting the nation healthier."

"The evidence shows pupils getting to school under their own steam turn up more alert and ready to face the day than if they had arrived by car."

In East Dunbartonshire, the I Bike programme has grown from nine schools in 2012 to 18 primary schools and four secondary schools this year.

The council has been promoting cycling and walking and recently unveiled the first phase of the Bears Way cycleway at the A81 in Bearsden.

The Bears Way project - financed by the Scottish Government, through Transport Scotland, Sustrans and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport - has also been praised by the Minister for Transport.

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