Students encouraged to actively travel to school with bike training sessions

File photo of a bike silhouette at sunset in Windsor, Ont., on June 29, 2015. (Rich Garton / CTV Windsor)

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) held bike training sessions at a Windsor elementary school Tuesday in the hopes of getting more kids to actively travel to school.

The bike training sessions were led by Can-Bike certified teachers from Bike Windsor Essex who taught grade 4 and 5 students at King Edward Public School about helmet fitting, basic bike maintenance, rules of the road, and other cycling safety tips.

“Learning to ride a bicycle is a vital life skill that teaches children valuable physical and mental skills and helps them develop confidence. Studies show that children who ride their bikes to school arrive more focused and ready to learn than their driven peers,” Lori Newton, executive director of Bike Windsor Essex, said in a news release.

The bike training sessions are the latest activity from WECHU and the Active School Travel (AST) Regional Committee to encourage more kids to walk, wheel , roll and bike to school with support through the Ontario Active School Travel (OAST) Fund grant.

There have been several activities and projects undertaken over the last year to help create an environment where students can safety engage in active transit to and from school, officials said.

The project has offered support to more than 2,700 students across six schools through various AST initiatives including assessments of school travel routes to determine their safety, purchasing and installing nine bike racks, and offering six CAN-Bike training sessions.

The various activities through the project have reached 25,000 students in 160 schools officials say.

“We are very happy to have received the grant from the OAST Fund as it has allowed us to leverage the collective strengths of our partners to make active and safe travel to schools more accessible for our students in our region. We look forward to continue working with our partners to ensure that these AST programs are sustained and reach even more students,” said WECHU CEO Nicole Dupuis.

Officials said once all the grant projects are finished in June 2022, the AST Regional Committee will develop a sustainability plant to keep AST participation going in other local schools.