Odense creates bike-keen school children

| June 5, 2013

In the Municipality of Odense’s project, “Cycle School,” the bike has become part of the solution to many challenges rather than a question of why the kids don’t bike to school. Here, the bike has been integrated into all aspects of the school’s daily routines.

By Connie Juel Clausen, Municipality of Odense

Bike school in odense

In the Municipality of Odense, about 80% of all children above third grade walk or bike to school. This is a high modal share compared to the national average. But it still means about 20% of children are driven to school. The last percentages are always the hardest to move and require non-traditional methods of promoting cycling.

The “Cycle School” project combines several sectors’ goals and needs. The traffic planners want more people to bike in order to solve congestion and safety issues around schools. The schools want to improve the children’s learning and inclusion. The municipality works to improve urban life and public health in a wider sense. “Cycle School” comprises all these aspects.

Bike school in odense

”Cycle School” becomes the answer – not the question
The concept of “Cycle School” is that the bike becomes part of the solution to many problems, rather than a problem in itself or a question of why the children don’t bike to school.
By integrating the bike as a natural element in all aspects of the school’s daily routines (class teaching, before- and after-school care, events, parental activities, etc.), you create a bicycle culture where the bike is “just” the means of achieving other goals. The bike thus creates the basis for going on interesting outings, excursions, physical activities, and fun and better learning.

Special needs students maintain bike park
In order to give all classes the opportunity of going on a bike tour – also including students who don’t have a bike – one of the schools invested in two sets of bikes to loan to the children. The teachers were very satisfied with the system and found it useful for realising more cycle activities at the school. Unfortunately, the teachers often experienced problems with the lending bikes due to lack of maintenance, missing lights, flat tires, etc.

The school has now found a solution that has proven to have an educational advantage as well. They established a bike repair shop in the school’s cycle store managed by one of the school’s social education workers and the school’s special needs class. The group maintains and repairs the school’s lending bikes so they are always ready for use. At the same time, they offer bike service (smaller repairs, patching, cleaning, etc.) for students, and teaching during the day.

The arrangement has been a huge success both for the special needs students and the rest of the school. These students have risen to the occasion and feel that they have an important job and responsibility. Working in the bike repair shop requires both Danish and Math skills – for example the students have to write messages on the school’s intranet. And so, it serves both an educational and an academic purpose in terms of the special needs students’ competencies and development.

For the school’s teachers, leisure-time teachers, and social education workers, the repair shop project has also removed the barrier for taking students on bike tours because the bikes are always in order and ready for use.

Bike school in odense

The schools use the city
Both schools in the ”Cycle School” project use the bikes to visit of some of the city’s many facilities such as the zoo, museums, festivals, gyms, and playgrounds.

According to one teacher, ‘We have far betters possibilities of taking the kids out now. “Cycle School” has really expanded our classroom and increased the possibilities of making the classes interesting for the children.’

Category: Newsletter 11