After creating the successful Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo (KRGF) in 2013, the Sunrise Rotary Club of Cranbrook realized just how big the growing passion for cycling was in southeastern B.C. The KRGF organizers wanted to continue to enhance the culture of cycling in the area and came up with a program targeting young cyclists. Since 2016, the club has offered the We-Bike Cycling Program to local schools in Cranbrook, Kimberley and Jaffray. Every spring, close to 500 British Columbian grade 4 students from 13 different schools participate in the annual event, which aims to strengthen cycling skills in a fun and safe learning atmosphere and to increase the young students’ knowledge about cycling safety.
Each class bikes through three 60-minute skill and stamina building sessions, led by more than 20 volunteers including trained coaches, Rotarians, parents and We-Bike supporters. After completing the three sessions, the program aims to make the children feel more confident in riding, boost their fitness level and increase their knowledge about cycling safety, allowing them to practice smart decision-making skills.
“I had a few first-time riders and I was amazed at how quickly they picked up the basic skills of biking, which is a credit to the instructors, with their kind approach and patience,” said Jill Carley, the vice principal at Amy Woodland School. “There were so many highlights of this program, but what truly stands out are the students’ smiles and watching some of my more timid students ride the skinnies and teeter‐totters. Most importantly, I see more students riding their bikes to school since having the We-Bike program at Amy Woodland and to me this is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “I love seeing the bike racks full every morning and knowing that those who took part in the program can safely ride their bikes.”