This autumn, there has been a serious focus on cycling among the youngest inhabitants in Odense. This has resulted in 850 children taking part in the cycling campaign “Rap i trafikken” and 45 kindergarten teachers being educated in cycling games.
By Marie Morthorst Bang, Municipality of Odense
Children’s mobility on the agenda
School cycling has been on the agenda in Odense for many years, but there has not been as much focus on kindergarten children. In connection with improvements to Odense Municipality’s mobility plan, Child and Youth Services indicated that they wanted to increase the focus on children’s mobility – in kindergartens, too. This autumn, this led to the implementation of a cycling campaign for kindergarten children and their parents and courses in cycling games for the kindergarten teachers.
Prizes for both children and institutions
The main goal of the campaign was to get more children to cycle to and from kindergarten with their parents. To make the campaign as attractive and accessible as possible, it was created in a way that made as few demands on kindergarten teaching staff as possible. During the campaign’s two weeks, parents would specify how many days the children had cycled – which led to prizes for both children and institutions.
To bring focus on the campaign and to create something that appealed to the children, the duck mascot Bicycle Anton visited the kindergartens during the campaign. He would hand out hugs and stickers. The children loved Anton’s visits, and one of the kindergartens even prepared a song for Bicycle Anton.
In all, 21 kindergartens enrolled in the campaign (around 850 children). In Rulkedalen Kindergarten, where the most children participated, 52% of the children cycled every single day.
More than a cycling campaign
In order to get more people cycling, it is important that parents feel safe traveling with their children in traffic. Therefore, the campaign included an additional aspect – focus on the children’s route to kindergarten. Parents and institutions had the opportunity to report suggestions on traffic improvements that would make the route to kindergarten safer.
This opportunity was well received and, after the two-week campaign, 50 suggestions came in. Projects to be undertaken were then selected by prioritising logistical and economic factors.
Initiatives go hand in hand
Concurrently with the campaign, Odense Municipality also educated 45 kindergarten teachers in cycling games. After discussions with the kindergartens, a concept was put into place that cycling games instructors would hold courses in the individual kindergartens for the teachers and children from the institution. This had a good effect as there were fewer withdrawals than if the teachers had to gather together in a single location.
The teachers got to try the learning tools themselves with the children which meant that there was a greater likelihood that the tools would be fully integrated and subsequently used more.
That the campaign and the cycling game courses ran at the same time has had a positive effect. The kindergartens that took part in both activities reported that the initiatives worked well together and have given an increased focus on cycling for both children and parents.
Read more about Odense Municipality, winner of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation’s prize for Cycling Municipality of the Year 2015, in part because of their contribution in strengthening cycling for children in the municipality.