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Bikes project worthy winner of NZ award

A Gisborne project aimed at getting the community on their bikes has taken home one of the major awards in a national competition.

Connext Trust’s Bikes in Schools Tairawhiti Project was announced as the Bikes at Work and School Award winner at the 2018 Bike to the Future Awards, from more than 60 nominations across New Zealand.

The $1 million Gisborne programme, established three years ago, had a goal of providing schoolchildren with access to bikes and instructions on safe riding.

Since then, they have seen more than 700 bikes made available and 4000 students involved across the region so far.

Trust manager Jo Haughey said they were delighted to bring the award home.

“When the finalists were announced earlier this year, we were thrilled to be among the nominees but never thought we would actually win.

“This is an amazing recognition for all the work a lot of different people and groups have done to see this come together.”

The Bikes at Work and School category recognises organisations that have made significant efforts to encourage and support cycling for staff, customers or students.

The Bikes in Schools Tairawhiti project has provided training for teachers and students, with cycling instruction becoming a compulsory activity within the school curriculum.

Biking tracks, from 200 metres to one kilometre in length, have been developed within school grounds. Bikes and helmets, along with secure storage for the equipment, are also provided for schools.

The project is jointly funded by Tairawhiti Connext Trust, Gisborne District Council, New Zealand Community Trust, Eastland Community Trust, Eastern & Central Community Trust, NZTA and the Bike On New Zealand Charitable Trust.

Ms Haughey said the level of funding made available enabled the project to grow as fast as it did.

“Without the commitments made by the various funders, so many schools would have not have been able to participate.

“This has meant more than 700 bikes available and thousands of kids getting access to bikes, which is just amazing.

“I love driving past community schools in the programme and seeing the tracks in place and kids out riding around having such a good time,” said Ms Haughey.

The Bike to the Future Awards, now in their third year, are organised by the NZ Transport Agency and Cycling Action Network, acknowledge New Zealand’s most innovative cycling projects and celebrate the people who are making cycling a safer and more attractive transport choice.

GET ON YOUR BIKES: The Bikes in Schools Tairawhiti Project won a national award last night for its achievement in giving more than 4000 schoolchildren access to bikes and safe riding tracks. An early recipient of the programme was Te Hapara School, who opened their bike track in December 2017. The track was a big hit with students and staff. Back then Camryn Smith (left), Katie-Rose Stewart and Kylah Te Moananui put the school’s new bikes and track to the test. File pictures
Connext Trust manager Jo Haughey and chairwoman Prue Younger attended the Bike to the Future Awards ceremony, where they accepted the Bikes at Work and School Award.