North Bay’s project is a great example of identifying and addressing local active transportation needs. They are utilizing their latest grant from the OAST Fund to get Grade 7 & 8 students to bike to school. Why this specific set of students you may ask?
“At the Near North District School Board, students’ eligibility to receive bussing to and from school increases from 1.6km to 3.0km once they are in Grade 9. As such, the Safe Cycling with NNDSB initiative believes that teaching cycling skills to Grade 7 and 8 students in advance of this eligibility change will provide our students with an active mode of transport to school, both in elementary and secondary,” says project lead Emily Samuel, the Principal of Safe Schools, Early Years and Capital Planning at Near North District School Board (NNDSB).
The most exciting news for students in the North Bay region is that there is a fleet of brand-new bicycles awaiting them as they return to in-person learning in the fall! The bikes have been sourced in collaboration with New Hope Community Bikes, a Hamilton-based organization that offers safe cycling education and fosters an inclusive cycling community. New Hope’s Andrew Hibma is also helping NNDSB and project partners to adapt the existing cycling curriculum to suit Grade 7 & 8 students.
The joint effort will also provide educators with advanced CAN-Bike cycling skills training so that they can train students on acquiring safe riding practices. Currently, nine schools and 12 educators are enrolled to be part of the program. Apart from educating students on safe biking, focus has also been put on helping students map out the best routes to school, so that parents can rest assured of their safety. Project coordinators intend to make parents confident of their children’s skills by organizing a celebration activity in each school (with fingers crossed that in-person events will be allowed) showcasing the skills students have learned.
The initiatives in North Bay are one of the latest community-based projects to receive support from the Ontario Active School Travel Fund.