Biking to school brings benefits for learning and the environment

Mike Townsend and his nearly 7-year-old son Kāhu cycle to school most days, with Kāhu on his yellow mountain bike, and Mike following safely behind on his folding e-bike. Mike says that the 10-minute ride really sets Kāhu up with a positive start to his day.

“He’s really refreshed and excited when he gets here. It’s a bit of exercise before sitting down for lessons. He seems much happier and much more ready to sit down and learn.”

Not having to find a park also makes the school drop off smoother.

“There’s never any parks outside – if we are really busy I have to drop him off at the gate. He doesn’t like that. If we bike we can come right into the school and say goodbye properly.” Mike says.

Another reason that Mike and his family choose to cycle is the opportunity it presents to make a personal contribution to tackling climate change.

“We’re just doing our small part to do what we can, and I think cycling is a really easy thing to do to reduce your carbon footprint.” Mike says.

Kāhu is aware of the environmental impact of cars. He says that along with it being fun, his favourite thing about cycling is that it doesn’t hurt the planet.

“He loves biking so much. He hates cars! He would bike everywhere if he had the opportunity to.” Mike says.

Kāhu began cycling to school on the footpath, but now has the confidence to ride on the road. Mike acknowledges that safety can be a concern for cycling with kids, but has taken lots of steps to ensure that Kāhu is safe on the road.

“I make sure that I’m behind and I stay a bit wider and keep him safe from cars.

“It’s about explaining the hazards to kids and making sure they understand where they’re supposed to be on the road, making sure they know how to use their brakes and can control their bike.” Mike says.

Mike sees Movin’March as a great opportunity to help kids encourage their parents to find an alternative to driving to school.

“Often I think it’s really easy to just bundle them into the car. Having a whole month where they get prizes and and all sorts of things is just a really cool incentive for the kids to tell their parents ‘hey, I want to find another way to school.’ ”

For cycling crazy Kāhu, getting a Movin’March sticker in his WOW (Walk or Wheel) passport every time he cycles to school is an extra cherry on the top for doing something he loves.