Ottawa’s oldest bicycle advocacy group, Citizens for Safe Cycling (CfSC), was -amongst others- founded by Bruce Timmermans. From Dutch descent, he was used to cycling as a means of transportation, before the word environment was invented and CO2 was mostly found in soft drinks. When he died in 1999, CfSC received donations which were set aside for good use in bicycle advocacy.
In 2011, there was still a small amount left and Jamie Stuckless of Green Communities Canada applied for the remaining amount to use for cycling education programs for kids. Together with Can-Bike, they approached a number of schools to give a condensed cycling instruction on a Saturday morning.
For the love of cycling
Surprisingly, some schools felt that they didn’t need the free course. Not because they thought the education wasn’t necessary, but they thought it should go to schools with families with less means. That was very generous. All this takes a huge amount of organisation and it took Jamie many, many hours to find the three schools which eventually signed up. I am sure that if you’d count the hours, she probably works below minimum wage (are you listening, Provincial Ministers of Transport?).
Taking to the streets of Ottawa
After some adjusting of helmets and bikes, there was some skill exercise and once they got that somewat under control, we took to the streets. Dirk, a blond three year old boy, couldn’t really grasp the concept of staying to the right and tended to veer to the centre of the road: “Dirk, back to the curb”…..”Dirk, get back to the curb”…”Dirk, watch where you’re cycling”.
Interesting to note that some parents thought their neighbourhood was ‘way too busy‘ to cycle, where as in reality I hardly saw a car. An example of perceived unsafety, I guess. When we eventually had to move to the centre of the road in order to turn left again, the few cars kept at a very safe distance. Their neighbourhood appeared great for children cycling actually.
Here are a few more pictures of the training which took place on June 9, 2012. Personally, I think the bike course for (4) Kids should be polished a bit, as it was still a bit too much of an adult course, with little engagement from the kids, other than following instructions. There was a bottle of water for them; still being a kid myself I think I would have liked some juice and cookie or so half way. But these are details.
Detail: All parents agreed to have pics of the kids except one, so I had to bend into some interesting ways to always hide one girl behind others.