Lake Macquarie City Council kicked off a program to increase the use of active transport among its residents, supported by active transport infrastructure upgrades, skills development and a competition for local school students.
Active transport is defined as physical activity undertaken as a means of transport, such as walking, cycling and skating. The campaign is being supported by a NSW Government grant.
New bicycle racks and cycling workshops
In August, an expression of interest (EOI) invited local residents and groups to suggest locations for the installation of new cycling racks. The EOI received a great response and the cycling racks are currently being installed in around twenty locations and eleven different suburbs suggested by local residents, formal and informal cycling groups and chambers of commerce.
The new racks will support the cycling skills taught to local residents by accredited AustCycle trainers. Free cycling skills workshops were held throughout spring for cyclists of all skill levels and ages. The workshops taught residents basic bike maintenance skills, along with road safety tips and practical knowledge of how to benefit from the active transport pathways and networks in the City, such as the Fernleigh Track.
A mother whose two children attended the School Holidays Cycling Workshop said her children had both enjoyed the day and learnt some important safety tips from their instructor. 'They will be much more confident when we are out on the road and cycling paths around the Lake,' she said.
Rewards for walking to school
Office of Environment and Heritage representative Mark Squires presents the WOW Challenge Award to the winning school, Pelican Flat Public School.
Following the success of the cycling component of the Clean Air Program, in October Council issued a challenge to local schools to reduce their transport footprint and register for the WOW (Walk on Wednesdays) Schools Challenge. The Challenge ran for a three week period between November and December, with schools and students accumulating a tally of trips to school achieved by active transport such as walking, cycling or skating.
Over 24,000 active trips to and from school were made by more than 1,100 students, and more than 400 of the participating students achieved the maximum possible trips. Pelican Flat Public School, the smallest school that participated, won the overall WOW Schools Challenge Award with 85 per cent of its students participating in the challenge. Prizes were also awarded to the winning schools in categories based on student enrolments, and to the students that achieved the greatest number of trips.
The Challenge offered schools additional benefits including increasing the health of their students, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution around the school and increasing the safety of walking to school. Council has assisted schools to develop a WOW program to suit their local area, by providing program support including resources and materials, toolkits, posters, flyers, program incentives and prizes.