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The following is the final report for the Everyone Rides Grades Four and Five (ERG45) Pilot Project delivered within the jurisdiction of the Capital Regional District (CRD) on Vancouver Island. The program is funded by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure within the province of British Columbia and was also offered in Kelowna.
ERG45 offered elementary schools both cities bike safety courses taught by certified instructors to build students’ cycling knowledge, skills, road safety, and confidence. The course is called Learn2Ride, a curriculum developed by HUB Cycling in Vancouver, who oversaw the delivery of the program in Victoria and Kelowna. To increase accessibility, the program also provides bikes and helmets to all students who don’t have their own, including adaptive cycles for students who need assistance with balance. By the end of the course, students should feel more confident in their abilities, see cycling as an attractive form of transportation, and be more likely to incorporate the activity into their lives.
With the challenges of COVID-19 at the forefront of everyone’s mind, there were low expectations for how this program was going to be delivered this fall. Not only is it a huge achievement that the pilot was still able to be run at all, but reporting that 14 programs were delivered to 11 schools feels like a great accomplishment. A total of 58 teachers and teacher’s assistants were engaged, with a grand total of 1,122 students participating in the program. 6 Instructors were trained, including the Bike Victoria Society’s Executive Director as a back-up, and 5 were employed to teach the curriculum in schools. Overall, we received positive feedback from the participants, the teachers, and the Instructors on coordination and delivery of the courses.
Despite holding off until October and November to start offering the courses, the weather cooperated for the most part. The youth participant’s experience and learning outcomes were not adversely impacted by the slightly cooler conditions. Only one class had to be cut short due to excessive rain, and even then, the feedback we received from the teachers at that school was positive.
Coordinating with schools to ensure the safety of our staff, the students, and the school staff under COVID-19 regulations varied from school to school. Some schools had our Instructors teaching combined classes that were in the same learning groups, while others had our Instructors teaching one class at a time. Though the Bike Victoria Society had created COVID-19 guidelines for teaching the courses which were sent to schools on initial contact, school administrative staff seemed quite appreciative when were able to adapt our guidelines to align with theirs.
Having our fleet of bicycles and helmets proved to be extremely important to keep the program accessible and inclusive, despite initial concerns about shared equipment during a pandemic.
Our top priority going into this program was ensuring the safety of all employed Instructors, partners, students, teachers, and school administrative staff. We are relieved that we were able to finish the pilot before the COVID-19 numbers started rising again. In general, holding a bike safety course is a relatively safe activity to participate in during a pandemic because it mostly occurs outdoors and can be safely distanced.
There were 21 responses to the survey sent out after schools received our courses. The average rating for the overall quality of the course was 4.5 out of 5. 81% of respondents reported that their school staff “strongly” valued and welcomed the program. 76% of respondents reported that they have witnessed an increased awareness of cycling rules and safety among students.
“This program was fantastic! We have biking trails and safe routes to our school, and the school staff who participated with their classes have been talking about the program very positively. We are encouraging students to bike to school and students are really excited to bike too. Students who previously didn’t know how to ride learned how to that day, and everyone learned valuable safety skills and the rules of the road. I highly recommend this program” (Teacher, View Royal Elementary).
“Thank you for following Covid-19 protocols and for having extra helmets and bikes, so that this program could continue and so all students can be involved” (Teacher, George Jay Elementary).
“We had 100 bikes brought to school for that skills lesson (needed to borrow about a dozen or so). There were a few students who admitted their bike was a week old. My belief is that this skills class resulted in more students and families focusing on cycling!” (Principal, View Royal Elementary)
“Great patience and enthusiasm from the team leads. They were encouraging and engaging with my class! Thank-you.” (Teacher, Frank Hobbs Elementary)
“This program was fantastic! We have biking trails and safe routes to our school, and the school staff who participated with their classes have been talking about the program very positively. We are encouraging students to bike to school and students are really excited to bike too. Students who previously didn’t know how to ride learned how to that day, and everyone learned valuable safety skills and the rules of the road. I highly recommend this program.” (Teacher, McKenzie Elementary)