The NSW government has announced a new program to get kids to ride, walk, scoot and skate to school.
Only 25% of school children walk or ride to school in NSW, compared to 75% four decades ago, and this is mirrored across the country.
The $10 million Active Transport to School program will fund projects in catchment areas that encourage kids to choose healthy modes of transport and reduce traffic outside school gates.
The initial focus of the program is to widen footpaths, upgrade pedestrian crossings and plant shady trees around schools to make the environment more inviting for active transport.
Individual projects will also be delivered by councils, who have applied for a slice of the $10 million pool in consultation with their local schools. These projects will range from $50,000 to $800,000 and will be delivered within two years.
“The benefits for children walking or riding a bike to school are enormous,” says Minister for Transport Jo Haylen.
“It provides independence, improves health and self-confidence, and sets lifelong sustainable travel habits patterns. When fewer school kids are being driven to school, it also helps to alleviate congestion on the road network.”
Applications for the Active Transport to School program closed in December and successful projects will be announced in April/May.
Meanwhile, school kids in Queensland are also set to receive an active transport boost.
The Federal Government has partnered with youth-focused charity Police-Citizens Youth Clubs to deliver to deliver a new bike education for 36,000 primary school children in years four to six.
The Wheely Wise program will teach kids riding preparation, balancing, braking, head checks, hazards and others safety skills.
While these programs are commendable and much-needed, Australia sits well behind some countries in its bike education initiatives for young people.
Last year, France launched a nationwide bike education program aimed at inspiring around 800,000 school children each year. In December, the UK government announced a AU$95 million investment in bike training for one million school kids.
In Victoria, the state government announced $11 million in its 2023-2024 Budget to help keep school children active. Funding for Bicycle Network's Ride2School program was discontinued in June 2023.
We are working to secure new sources of funding and continuing to help students build healthy transport habits through our award-winning Open Streets program, you can contribute to our efforts here.
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