Travelling safe and skilled on two wheels in Tauranga

May 14, 2018

There is a change in the air in Tauranga as the Travel Safe team encourages kids and adults to get out on their bikes.

Travel Safe, which is part of Tauranga City Council, promotes road safety and active transport for everyone from aged zero through to eighty and beyond, by sending cycle instructors out into the community to help people gain skills and confidence on the bike. Skills Active had a chat to Travel Safe programme leader Karen Smith to find out more about what the team has been up to.

The Cycle Savvy programme for adults is run through a partnership with Sport Bay of Plenty. And the Kids Can Ride programme operates in schools across Years 5 and 6, with over 4,000 Tauranga kids taking part each year. Kids Can Ride is a cycle skills programme which sits under the umbrella of Travel Safe school action plans, as part of the NZTA ‘whole school’ approach.

Rather than bringing bikes into the schools for training, Travel Safe aims for kids to have their own bikes, and these are checked by a highly skilled bike maintenance expert – who Karen describes as just one of the “community gems” involved with the programme. Sometimes when a student doesn’t have a bike, they are matched with a donated bike that has been fixed up by this community gem.

A key principle for Travel Safe, Karen says, is developing programmes with input from the people they serve – programmes succeed when the participants feel a sense of ownership, and when training is designed to meet community needs.

For instance, the programme for intermediate-age kids was launched following feedback from the community. Kids going into intermediate need help with the transition to biking new routes to intermediate school, often in busy and challenging transport corridors.

The intermediate cycling is done in real-time and in real environments, teaching kids where the safe routes are, and how to cycle those routes at peak times. Travel Safe was able to secure sponsorship for this programme from Powerco.

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For several years now, Travel Safe has worked closely with Skills Active to make sure its instructors are qualified and recognised for the important work they do, through the National Certificate in Cycle Skills Instruction. The team has 15 qualified instructors and two in-house assessors, and it’s looking to grow this talent pool.

Having local instructors and assessors meets another one of Travel Safe’s key goals, says Karen, which is to build the skill base within the community.

“So with the cycle instructors sitting across all the different suburbs in Tauranga, they are out there being great advocates for cycling at other times.”