Bikes not parents get kids to Port Coquitlam school

Coquitlam, TransLink, Hub Cycling help Maple Creek middle become bike-friendly school

Neither snow nor sleet nor rain stop a group of die-hard cyclists at Maple Creek middle from pedalling to school.

The group of boys who live about a 10-minute ride away from the Port Coquitlam school say they don't mind the trek because it's quicker than walking.

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Grade 6 and 7 students Ethan Cox, Victor Wu and Jesse Tran, who live in the New Horizons area, are a few of the reasons Maple Creek was named the region's most bike-friendly middle school in awards handed out last week by Hub, a cycling education and advocacy group.

Most days, the boys will ride their bikes to school, a trend that principal Andrew Graham said started about a year ago after routes to the school were made safer and a map was produced to show the best route to take for each feeder neighbourhood.

After the school travel plan was put in place, approximately 4% of the school's 570 students cycled to school during Bike to Work and School Week last year, earning the school the Hub award.

The organization also donated a Giant mountain bike to the school as a prize and it was won in a draw by student Amelia Hamnett, who said she rides it whenever she can.

To make cycling and scootering easier, the school has enclosed areas for bike and scooter storage, a key consideration to protect the kids' wheels.

Although some of the students said their parents were the ones to encourage them to get themselves to school, Graham said the travel plan project is a big part of why the school is bike friendly.

He also credits Hub for its study of school needs and a Ride the Road training program to boost kids' confidence, the city of Coquitlam for improving sidewalks and curbs with support from the province and TransLink, and School District 43 for improving lighting around the school.

The middle school walk-bike ability program, jointly sponsored by the city of Coquitlam and TransLink's TravelSmart program with the support of Hub Cycling, is being carried out at all eight Coquitlam middle schools after a similar program was introduced at local elementary schools.

As a result of the work, Maple Creek has seen a 9% drop in parents driving their kids to school, Graham said. Initially, he said, "that was our question: How can you get to school without having parents drive you by car."

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