Priomhoide Seán and his students arriving to Gaelscoil Kilkenny on their bikes
Parents, teachers and cycling campaign groups countrywide - members of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network - have issued a call to parents/guardians and school communities to support their “Get to School on Your Own Fuel” promotion which aims to help families familiarise themselves with their school routes.
This year the promotion will run from Saturday 21st August to Saturday 4th September.
Kilkenny Cycling and Walking Campaign group will be running a range of events to help get children ready to cycle to school. The first “Get to School On Your Own Fuel” event will take place on Sunday, August 29, with a meeting time of 11am at Eurospar, Newpark Shopping Centre.
Parents and children are welcome to come along and explore some local routes. Contact the group in advance through their Facebook page or email email@example.com.
Kilkenny Cycling and Walking Campaign group can also supply guidelines and support for anyone interested in organising their own group. Pupils and students of all ages are welcome to participate and ideally they will link with other families, teachers, parent associations, and local organisations to plan and test the safest cycling routes from home to school.
Everyone who participates in the #GetToSchoolOnYourOwnFuel initiative is encouraged to register for a chance to win a hamper of cycle-goodies (register at www.cyclist.ie/school). Practice runs can be held on any dates between August 21st and September 4th
Allison Roberts, spokesperson for the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival, said: “2021 is a great year to start cycling to school! The new school year will see the beginning of the Government’s Safe Routes to School programme. 170 schools supported by Green Schools Ireland, the NTA and their Local Authority will receive funding to support walking and cycling infrastructure. Following on from the government’s lead, we as local residents can help accelerate the introduction of new measures to make cycling to school as easy and as safe as possible. Even if our children cycle once or twice a week it will make a difference on our roads, in our local communities and to the perception of local authorities. Safety in numbers really does apply here, if we can get small groups together cycling to school it will be easier, safer and more enjoyable for all”. The list of 170 schools which will receive funding this year can be found here.
Speaking on behalf of Cyclist.ie, Vice-Chair, Neasa Bheilbhigh said: “Many parents and principals would happily bid farewell to the daily chaotic parking scenes at the school gate but are unsure of what the alternatives are. Key to getting more children to school ‘on their own fuel’ is the familiarisation of routes from home to school. Cycle Buses have been offering a supported means of getting children to school safely. Other parents may welcome support to travel with their own children or to link in with a neighbour. Cyclist.ie is urging all school communities and not just those chosen for the initial Safe Routes to School funding to investigate if cycling is an option for them”
National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie, Dr Damien O Tuama expressed the hope that following two years of pandemic disruption, the 2021/2022 School Year would be a smooth running and happy experience for all. “We in Cyclist.ie also hope that the new school year will see an explosion of interest in getting to school on your own fuel. We are only too happy to support families to do this in any way we can. We urge everyone to register for the Get to School on your Own Fuel promotion and to contact their local advocacy group for support”.
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