Vancouver School Board backs province-wide cycling education

Pitch made by B.C. Cycling Coalition

The B.C. Cycling Coalition won Vancouver School Board support for a province-wide proposal to teach bicycle safety and education to youth.

Trustees voted unanimously at a school board meeting Tuesday night in favour of a recommendation from the VSB's management co-coordinating committee, which suggested the board endorse, in principle, the coalition's Right to Bike provincial youth cycling education framework.

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"What the cycling coalition has been doing is working on trying to develop province-wide curriculum for bike safety," trustee Mike Lombardi, chair of the management co-coordinating committee, told the Courier before the vote.

"It's modelled on a program in England, apparently. It's very successful across the whole country. It teaches kids the basics of cycling_The coalition is in the process of trying to gather support [for its framework] through different agencies to be able to go to government to talk about securing funds to develop the comprehensive cycling education program."

Lombardi said such curriculum would ensure instructors teach to a particular standard.

In its package to the school board, the B.C. Cycling Coalition noted that the province has focused on cycling infrastructure and to a lesser degree promoting cycling awareness, but education is considered a critical component of cycling plans.

"In the Netherlands, universally available cycling and traffic safety education are integral components of their cycling strategy that also includes infrastructure development and motor vehicle speed reduction," the coalition stated. "This complete strategy has resulted in very high levels of cycling with safety rates much better than Canada's."

The coalition's youth cycling education framework involves a lead organization, supported by a board of partners and stakeholders, establishing and coordinating a standard for cycling skills and safety education for the entire province.

A certification program tied to the standard would be licensed to parties interested in delivering certified cycling training and would include everything needed to deliver bicycling skills and safety training anywhere in B.C.

The program would operate on a cost-recovery model.

Lombardi maintains it's a great idea.

"The idea is actually something that a number of us have been talking about for a while. That is, if we're going to be promoting cycling like we are, we need to start [training] very early and have curriculum for that," he said.

"It's a very good idea. It's obviously promoting safety. It's promoting health. It's promoting kids cycling to school. We think it's got a lot of positive features to it_There was tremendous support at the [management coordinating] committee from everybody. Everybody felt it was something that was overdue and that it would be a very positive initiative."

The VSB also voted in favour of presenting a similar resolution to the B.C. School Trustees Association annual general meeting.

noconnor@vancourier.com

Twitter: @naoibh

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