Bikes in Schools

Skip to a section:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Impacts
  3. Measures of Success
  4. What’s in the Package?
  5. Costs and Funding
  6. Maintenance
  7. Opening Event
  8. ACC SportSmart Bike Basics Videos
  9. Post-Opening School Guide Resource
  10. Bikes in Pre-Schools

1. Introduction

The Bike On New Zealand Charitable Trust (CC44779) is a registered charity whose main objective is to enable as many New Zealand children as possible to ride a bike on a regular and equal basis within school, through its national ‘Bikes in Schools’ programme.

Ready to ride

We offer free advice about project managing, funding and implementation to any school in New Zealand interested in the Bikes in Schools programme.

Using the knowledge and experiences gained from working with over sixty schools around New Zealand, this “Guide” attempts to explain the what, why and how of understanding and implementing a Bikes in Schools (or similar) project.

See Bikes in Schools in action

For videos showing and explaining Bikes in Schools please visit our YouTube channel by clicking hereThis is a great way to see what some other schools have done.

While this document recommends what we believe is best practice and should help make the project easier, every school is encouraged to implement what works best for their school and local community.

The following short video provides an excellent introduction and explanation of Bikes in Schools:

What is Bikes in Schools?

Bikes in Schools is a recommended complete biking package implemented within a school that enables all students to ride a bike on a regular basis.

The full package includes:

  • a fleet (30 to 50) of new good quality bikes (usually 4 different sizes)
  • a good quality bike helmet for every child
  • combination of riding, pump and bike skills tracks
  • bike storage solution (where needed)
  • intro cycle skills to introduce the programme and teach basic riding and safety skills

All the bikes and helmets are owned by the school and remain on the school property. The tracks are built within the school property. The storage solution (eg. converted shipping container or bike shed) is also owned by the school.

This package can be complemented by a Travelwise Safe School Travel Plan (in Auckland) or other similar local Council active transport and school road safety programmes as well as locally provided cycle skills training programmes.

Why Bikes in Schools?

Over the last 20 years there has been a dramatic fall in biking by New Zealand primary school children. This has resulted in many children not being able to experience “the joy of biking” and the many social and health impacts that result from biking regularly.

  • Between 1990 and 2014 the average time biked by New Zealand’s 5-12yr olds has fallen from 28 minutes per week to just 4 minutes per week. (Ministry of Transport 2015)
  • Between 1990 and 2014 the average distance biked by New Zealand’s 5-12yr olds has fallen from 2.8 km per week to just 0.5 km per week. (Ministry of Transport 2015)

(Source: Ministry of Transport NZ Household Travel Survey)

2. The Impacts

What is the main directly measurable impact of the Bikes in Schools?

Regular access to and the riding of a bike goes from approximately 30% of the students to 100% of the students. This impact is both immediate and measurable.

What are the other positive impacts of Bikes in Schools?

Feedback from Principals, teachers, parents, cycle skills providers and students continually state that it;

  • Raises the confidence, self-esteem and resilience of pupils through a fun activity
  • Delivers health and well-being outcomes for the pupils (and staff)
  • Provides an opportunity to self-manage risks within a safe environment
  • Instils the habit of using an environmentally friendly form of transportation
  • Results in the children and extended family biking more often
  • Pupils gain knowledge, skills and confidence to ride safely for when they ride outside the school area

Please see this Biking Builds Resilience at Pinehaven School article for examples of these outcomes.

3. Measures of Success

Why is Bikes in Schools successful?

  • Impact: It generates positive impacts for all the children
  • Demand: All children want to ride bikes
  • Supply: A complete package is available on-site at the school
  • Effective: Provides high level of regular biking/physical activity to an entire school
  • Simple: Low level of organisational input required from the school and teachers
  • Cost: Upfront average investment of only approx $175 per child

What does the research data say about Bikes in Schools?

Independent research by the Eastern Institute of Technology tracked the impact of Bikes in Schools at 3 schools for two years through testing, surveys and focus groups with parents and teachers. A final report* was published in May 2013.

The three key findings from the report:

  1. Parents and teachers across all the three educational facilities maintained a high level of engagement in the programme. Teachers continued to incorporate the Bikes in Schools programme into the 2012 curriculum.
  2. Teachers reported many physical benefits including; increased physical fitness, motor skills and coordination. This was supported by the data collected, which showed an increase in estimated VO2max (a measure of aerobic fitness).
  3. Data collected for each of the intervention schools, demonstrated that the percentage of obese children dropped from 2011 to 2012. This goes against the national trend, which has seen childhood obesity increase by 2% from 2006/7 to 2011/12.

* Maclaren, Forrest & Marshall, Final report on the 2012 Bikes in Schools project, 2013, Eastern Institute of Technology

Eastern Institute of Technology Research

Additional research by Mackie Consulting regarding a Bikes in Schools at Nga Iwi School in Auckland also highlights many positive outcomes of the project: Mackie Consulting Research.

A detailed Social Return on Investment report on Bikes in Schools details many of the benefits of the program as well as the very attractive returns the project generates: Our Social Return on Investment (SROI).

4. What’s in the Package?

Bikes

It is recommended that good quality bikes are purchased and that there is local support for servicing the bikes. It is recommended that the school identify one or more people in the school or school or local community to be taught how to service bikes and then continue to service them. (See Bike Maintenance section).

Brand new bikes ready for the kids

The largest bike can also be used by the teachers. It is recommend that step-through bikes are used as these are the easiest and safest bikes for riders to get on and off.

It is recommended that each bike is individually numbered by the school (eg 1 to 50) so that the students can quickly identify the correct bike (size) for them to ride.

A typical fleet of 50 bikes for a school would consist of:

  • 15 x  18 inch bikes
  • 15 x 20 inch bikes
  • 15 x 24 inch bikes
  • 5  Adult Step thru bikes

Physical Disability Bikes

Bikes in Schools is all about regular and equal access to a bike for every child. For students with physical disabilities this has been made possible thanks to the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation who have generously provided special purpose bikes for students at a number of different schools we have been working with.

The Halberg Disability Sport Foundation’s Vision is to help build a society in which all New Zealanders have equal opportunity to participate in sport and recreation – with No Exceptions. The Foundation’s Mission is to enhance the lives of physically disabled New Zealanders by enabling them to participate in sport and recreation.

For more details, please contact the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation (http://www.halbergallsports.co.nz/).

Bike Assembly (if required)

Many schools have purchased bulk (30+) orders of bikes that are delivered from the supplier still in their boxes. These bikes will need to be assembled. While a lot of the unpacking of the bikes and some basic assembly work could be done by older students, staff and parents, it is recommended to have the bikes professionally assembled or at least checked over. This can be done through a local bike shop or by getting a bike mechanic to do it. It is best to get the work done on the school site as this reduces the need to transport the bikes from one location to another.

It is recommended that the individual bike serial number for every bike is recorded and stored by the school. These can be used to identify bikes if they go missing.

Helmets

It is recommended that a good quality helmet is available for every child in the school so that there is no need to share helmets. It is best at the start of the project to fit and name (eg Sam W) individual helmets (on the side) for each child. Most schools store the helmets in their class rooms so they are easily available for when the class goes biking.

Leaving students hand their helmets back in so they are available for new students. Over time as the students heads get bigger some may need to be issued with bigger helmets.

Bike Storage

It is essential that the bikes are stored in a safe and secure (and alarmed if possible) building within the school grounds. It is recommended that this room is as close to the actual tracks as possible so to allow easy access.

Some schools are able to store the bikes in an available shed or an unused classroom. A school may decide to build a purpose built shed. A school may decide to use just a general sports storage shed that includes all their sports equipment.

The majority of schools have opted for a specially converted 40 foot shipping container. This usually does not require a building permit as it is not a permanent structure. Also it can be moved around if required. The container needs a flat floor not a steel / metal ribbed floor.

The normal specification for a Bikes in Schools converted shipping container are;

  • 40’ High Cube Container
  • Internal repaint (light grey)
  • External repaint – Water blasted and then 1 coat of Uni Guard Single Pack anti-corrosive paint
  • 2 x Galvanised Roller doors installed 
  • 1 x Roller Door Lockdown per door

It’s recommended that two roller doors be added to the shipping container to make is easy to access the bikes.

Some schools have opted for a sliding door system. These are more secure than traditional roller doors.

It is strongly recommended that additional locks are added to the roller doors to ensure they are secure. See below photos:

A few schools have also added lighting and power outlets. As well as a concrete pad for in front of the container for the bikes to be parked on during the day.

It is recommended that the container is kept slightly off the ground by placing railway sleepers underneath. This will allow the air circulate. Some schools have put a concrete pad for the container to sit on.

The cost of a fully converted and painted 40 foot shipping container with two roller doors (as shown above) is approx. $8,000 to $9,000 + GST. Prices can vary depending on the location of school. We recommend Forrest Green as the standard colour but it is possible to get other colours to match with the school buildings.

If you do go with a converted 40 foot shipping container, please ensure that there is sufficient access for the container truck to get onto the school grounds and into the correct area. You need to think about putting the container in a place where the bikes are relatively close to the bike tracks.

Shipping container dimensions:

Standard 40 Foot Shipping Container dimensions:

W = 2440mm
H = 2600mm
L = 12200mm

Please note some schools go for the High Cube 40 Foot Shipping container as it is slightly higher.

High Cube 40 Foot Shipping Container dimensions:

W = 2440mm
H = 2900mm
L = 12200mm

Basically the ground footprint is 12.20m x 2.44m.

Bike Tracks

It is recommended that for students to achieve the maximum benefit from the project that if possible the school constructs all three bike tracks, Riding, Pump and Skills. Due to land or funding constraints, some schools have decided to construct only one or two of the three tracks.

The Riding Track

This track usually follows the out edge of the schools playing fields. Some schools have designed tracks that go part way around the fields and then double back and return parallel to starting point.

The riding  track is where the greatest amount of riding (distance and time) is usually done. It is possible for large numbers (50+) of children to ride at any one time.

Many schools use the track for both biking as well as walking and running and those schools with swimming pools also use it to run school triathlons.

Construction of the Riding Track

  • Made from limestoneconstructionriding
  • 2 metres wide (highly recommended)
  • 75 to 100 mm deep
  • 250 to 700+ metres long depending on the size of the school
  • No straight lines – has to be curved otherwise children go too fast
  • Costs vary by region

See more Riding Track construction details: Limesand Track Construction.

While most schools do build limestone riding tracks a number of schools have recently done asphalt or hot mix riding tracks. The cost of these tracks are more than limestone but have reduced recently due to the drop in oil prices.

riding

Here’s an example of an asphalt riding track:

The Pump Track

This is very similar to a small BMX track. If done correctly the children do not pedal but actually “pump” their bikes up and down the slopes to get around the track. It is similar to the movement used to operate a child’s swing. This track “burns” the most calories.

This track is usually the most popular with children as for many it is “the most fun” of the three tracks. It is recommended that no more than six students ride this track at any one time.

Ensure the pump track designers and builders are in conversation with the bike provider to ensure the track is designed to suit the children sizes bikes you will purchase. Different bikes have different centres of gravity. It is recommended that you have a child’s bike available on site while you are building.

Construction of the Pump Track

  • Made mainly for from dirt and some limestone along the top
  • It is NOT a jump track
  • Recommend to get a BMX club or professional provider to design and build
  • Cost vary from $3,000 to $8,000 depending on the size and region
  • Size of areas depends on what schools has available but approx. 20m by 20m. Some are as small as 5m by 15m if that is all the available space

The Bike Skills Track

This is made up of a limestone track that takes the rider over a series of obstacles. This track is often the most challenging as it requires the rider to concentrate and ride very slowly. It is particularly good for improving hand–eye coordination.

This see-saw is the most difficult and popular obstacle for the children. It is recommended that no more than six students ride this track at any one time.

Construction of the Skills Track

  • pumpbuildLimestone is recommended
  • Features wooden skinnies, slalom, seesaw and other skills related activities
  • Strongly recommend get this built by experienced provider
  • Approx cost $6,000 to $10,000 depending on size, number of obstacles and region
  • Size of areas depends on what schools has available but approx 10m by 30m

See more about detailed guide: How to build a Skills Track.

Cycle Skills Training

It is recommended to have intro cycle skills training provided on-site for all students from the start of the track being open. These trainers might also be able to help oversee the fitting of the helmets, help children select the correct size bike to ride, explain to teachers and students how to ride the different track, teach basic bike riding skills, as well as introducing some bike exercises and games for the students.

We recommend that schools make contact with their local cycle skill providers (usually local council, Regional Sport Trust or Police) in advance to have this training booked from the start.

In Auckland, Auckland Transport fund Cycle Skills Training at all the Auckland Bikes in Schools projects. Many local councils such as Wellington, Palmerston North and Christchurch support their local Bikes in Schools projects with cycle skills training.

5. Costs and Funding

What are the approx costs for an average school of 300 students?

(These costs are very approximate, vary greatly by region, and are exclusive of GST)

#FeaturePricingNotes
150 bikes$12,000 Numbers of bikes may vary
2300 helmets$ 5,500 One per child recommended
3300m riding track$11,000 Length may vary
4Pump track$ 5,500 Highly recommended
5Skills track$ 8,000 Highly recommended
6Bike storage$ 8,000 If required
Average Total Cost$50,000

Ongoing bike and track maintenance costs are approx. $2,000 to $3,000pa. We strongly recommend that schools allocate this in their operational budget so it’s available if required. Costs will be lower for schools with smaller rolls.

Some costs can vary by region. While the costs for bikes and helmets are standard throughout the country, track building costs can vary greatly between cities and even construction companies within an area. It is best to get as many quotes as possible.

The cost of the material (usually limestone or a soft metal) used for the main riding track can also vary greatly by region.

Overall costs can also be reduced by:

  • Constructing only one or two of the three different tracks
  • Purchasing less bikes
  • Purchase less helmets and make children share (not recommended)
  • Already having a secure space available for bike storage
  • Having the track construction work done “in kind” or “at cost” by local companies. This has the potential to generate the biggest savings for a school.
  • Having the track material (eg limestone) provided “in kind” or “at cost” by a local supplier. This also has the potential to generate the major savings for a school.

We strongly recommend that schools get multiple (3) quotes for each item (bikes, tracks, containers etc) to ensure they are getting the best value for their school. We also recommend that schools talk to other nearby schools that have already implemented Bikes in Schools in their area to get feedback and recommendations on the suppliers and contractors that they used. It is also a great opportunity to see the project in action and get some general advice from those schools.

See here for map of Bikes in Schools locations.

Who are the possible funders and support providers for the project?

Funding for all the schools so far have come from a diverse range of funders. It is recommended that if possible, the school wait until all or most of the required funding has been gained before beginning to build the tracks. This makes things easier in general and may mean that the different contractors can work on-site and utilise each other’s equipment.

Some local contractors may be able to offer some services or product in kind.

Possible funders and support providers could include:

  • Community Groups, Foundations and Trusts (eg Lion Foundation)
  • Local councils (this is becoming very common)
  • Public and Private businesses (local contractors)
  • Government Agencies (eg DHB and PHO)
  • Individuals and non-profit groups (eg Bike On NZ Charitable Trust)
  • Parents or families within the school community

In some cases the MoE also allows schools to use their property budget (5YP) towards the cost of building tracks. Please see this press release for more details.

The NZ Government press release.

BOT approval and Bikes in Schools

We recommend all schools formally confirm BOT approval before beginning the fundraising and implementing of their Bikes in Schools project.  Most funders will require confirmation of BOT support (letter) for the project as well as a minuted resolution about where, who and how much is being applied for to be included in the actual funding application. 

6. Maintenance

Track Maintenance

The main requirement to maintain the tracks is usually just occasional weed spraying across the top of the tracks as required if a 100mm deep track has been built. More regular weed spraying will be required around the outside edges of the Riding track.

Most schools include the track maintenance work into their normal school maintenance program and is taken care of by their caretaker. Another option would be to have an annual bike track school working-bee.

As you can see in this video clip, the use of a Leveling Bar makes the construction and maintenance of a limestone Riding Track much easier:

Also as shown in this video, the use of a Power Broom is great for tidying up the Skills Track: 

Bike Maintenance

To ensure that your fleet of bikes stay well maintained and safe, we strongly recommend that your school follows this simple bike maintenance schedule: Bike Maintenance Schedule.

This BikeWise Safety Check is also very useful: BikeWise Seven Point Safety Check.

Basically the bikes will require regular checking to ensure the tyres are pumped up and that the chains are oiled. Some schools have student ‘bike monitors’ who are selected students that take care of these tasks. Other schools arrange for some parents (or grandparents) to come into the school to do these tasks. It is recommended that the school establishes a relationship with a local bike shop for them to come in and thoroughly check the bikes at least twice a year.

In summary, the most effective way to keep bikes well maintained and safe is to:

  • Purchase good quality bikes
  • Ensure the bikes are kept out of the rain
  • Store the bikes in a secure place every night
  • Keep the tyres pumped up
  • Oil the chains as needed
  • Check the brakes regularly
  • Check regularly that all nuts and bolts remain tight
  • Have a bike mechanic check the bikes at least twice a year

Bike Maintenance Videos

This website has an excellent range of simple videos that cover all aspects of bike maintenance and repair: www.madegood.org/bikes/repairs/

We also recommend Auckland Transport’s range of simple “maintenance 101” videos, here: Auckland Transport Bike Maintenance 101 playlist

Bike Shed Manual

This Bike Shed Manual provides detailed information to helps school with the maintenance of their Bikes in Schools bike fleets.  

School “Bike Tips” Signage

It is recommended that schools put up some Bike Tips signage that provides some basic safety messages and information for all users. Please see here for some examples from Wellington City Council and Palmerston North City Council.

Example 1 (PDF)
Example 2 (PDF)
Example 3 (PDF)

7. Opening Event

opening2

Most schools launch their Bikes in Schools project with an official opening. Usually it involves special guests such as the local Mayor, MP or a sports person to open it. Parents and the local community as well as local media (and sometimes national) are also always invited. Each school puts their own style onto the event.

Some schools put out a simple press release about the event and detailing the different funders.

The opening is also used by schools to publicly thank the funders and supporters who have helped make the project a reality. The opening event at every school so far has also lead to very positive press coverage and publicity for each school. Often the schools have an acknowledgement / thank you sign put up that publicly thanks all funders for their contribution to their Bikes in Schools project.

Please see our media page for examples of media coverage of opening events.

8. ACC SportSmart Bike Basics Videos

Helmet Check 2-4-1

ABC Bike Check

9. Post-Opening School Guide Resource

The Greater Wellington Regional Council have published a detailed School Guide for schools that have implemented a Bikes in Schools project. It includes very useful ideas and information to help schools. Click here for the GWRC Bikes in Schools Guide.

The NZTA Bike Wise 101 resources for teachers has lots of useful biking related information and links for schools and teachers: www.bikewise.co.nz/resources/resources-schools

10. Bikes in Pre-Schools

A growing number of NZ Early Education Centers are interested in enabling their pre-school children to have regular access to bikes and special balance bikes at their centers. This short video highlights how easily this can be done and also the benefits of the getting the children to ride regularly.