In Denmark kids are bicycling to school from the first day

| September 14, 2016

Every year when a new class of Danish children starts school, they are also preparing themselves to getting to school for the first time. Traditionally, the year group of children is primarily being taught traffic safety. However at the municipality of Odense in Denmark, they are promoting bicycling in schools by adding it to the existing curriculum. 

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How cycling is in integrated part of the kids´ curriculum. Credit: Municipality of Odense.

Collaboration between the municipality and the schools has been found essential in getting children to choose the bike when getting to school in the morning. The bicycle is also a brilliant tool to incorporate fun and meaningful movement into the school days, which in turn aids in creating better cyclists out of a new generation of pupils. The municipality is intensifying their collaboration with the schools by promoting cycling on the conditions of the schools. The idea is for the teachers to incorporate the use of bicycles in fulfilling the national learning goals of the Danish public school system.

Promoting cycling in schools
All the municipal schools in Odense are offered assistance from two children bicycle educators in launching newly created bicycle summer schools. The task of the children bicycle educators is to visit the schools, and introduce them to different kinds of bicycle games. The educators are working for the municipality and will be on for the project for the first five months. During the summer of 2016, 13 schools have combined bicycle training, excursions, and games in the bicycle summer schools. The summer schools takes place in and around Odense, where the participants get around by bike. The children thereby improve their bicycle skills in everyday traffic close to home.

Laying the grounds for taking the bike
As another initiative, more than 10 schools have established bicycle practice grounds. In a further effort to support a playful approach to bicycle training, 10 schools have received funds from the municipality to establish bicycle practice lanes. The practice lanes can be used both during recess and as an actual part of the curriculum. The schools are allowed creative freedom with only few limitations to the minimum criteria of the practice lanes. This freedom has allowed schools to include student councils in developing the lanes. In other schools teachers and the children are also playing an active part in designing the bicycle practice lanes. As a result the lanes will be made from a lot of different materials, e.g. gravel and asphalt. One tunnel is even made from huge old sewer pipes. The project will result in the development of bicycle practice lanes where limitations are only set by the imagination of the children.

Pokémon on bike
Finally, the municipality of Odense is also promoting the bicycle app Bicycle Friend – a mobile game combining bike rides with computer games – similar to the Pokémon game. In just a few days the app has been downloaded more than 500 times.

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Kids downloading the app ´Bicycle Friend´. Credit: Municipality of Odense.

Cycling from day #1
All of these initiatives focus on improving children’s ability to get around safely by bike, and to aid them in becoming well acquainted with bicycling from an early age. As an added bonus bicycling can contribute to the children´s personal development, and further develop their social skills.

With these initiatives this Danish municipality has in truth found the value in having kids bicycle to school from the very first day.

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Category: Children, Cycling, Cycling Embassy of Denmark, Danish cycling culture, Municipalities, Odense, Safety, Uncategorized, Young Cyclists

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