School children from Edenbrooke Primary have taken to their bicycles in droves following a unique cycling initiative called ‘Bike It'.
SDLP Councillor Pat McCarthy, chairman of Belfast City Council’s Health and Environmental Services Committee visited the north Belfast school on Monday, May 10, to help celebrate the ‘Bike It' programme's success and to see how the project at this school, took a significant turn in adapting to the children's needs.
Jill Smyth, the ‘Bike it' officer who organised the project as part of her work for sustainable transport charity Sustrans, said: “When we introduced the scheme here, we quickly realised that some of the children who wanted to take part didn't own a bike.
“We teamed up with various recycling centres in the city and they donated discarded bikes to the scheme. Bike Dock shop on the Ravenhill Road helped to repair the bikes to their former glory.”
Mrs Sandra Perry, vice principal of Edenbrooke, said: “When we teamed up with Sustrans, one 10-year-old pupil told us he had his bike stolen last year.
“When he was given a bike under this scheme his face lit up — it was like Christmas all over again for him.”
This is the first year of ‘Bike It' in Northern Ireland, and over 3,000 children all over Belfast have taken part to date.
This is the first time however, that recycled bikes have been supplied to children alongside the National standard cycle training that is offered through the project.
Mrs Smyth said: “I’m delighted with the success of this pilot recycling project.
“The children that have received these bikes are over the moon. We’ve received great support from Belfast City Council, Bike Hub and the Bike Dock shop, without their help the scheme wouldn’t have been so successful.
“The new bikes mean that children who wouldn’t have been able to cycle now have the opportunity to travel to school, and on other journeys, in a way which benefits their health and the environment.”
Councillor McCarthy adds: “We’re delighted to have been involved in this project as it is a great example of our ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ message at work, but more importantly, through our partnership with Sustrans, we have been able to make a real difference in the community.
“It’s great to see so many of the pupils taking off on their new set of wheels as it will also be a great benefit to their health and environment.”