Kevin Brennan MP today visited a Tyneside school for Bike to School Week (first place outside of USA to get Kryptonite racks)

Schools Minister visits ‘cycling excellence’ school

St. Catherine’s RC Primary School of Newcastle upon Tyne has just 240 pupils but runs a number of cycling clubs and is the first location outside of America to have been provided with cycle parking hoops by a multinational lock company.

Children, Schools and Families Minister, Kevin Brennan MP today opened this new cycle parking facility (pix here and here) and then watched pupils getting cycle training for riding on roads – Bikeability training – as well as racing, Go Ride coaching.

He also met teachers who have bought bicycles on the Government’s Cycle to Work salary sacrifice scheme. The visit was rounded off with a demonstration of unicycling by the school’s one wheeled wonders. St. Catherine’s is believed to be the only primary school in the country to have a unicycling club.

To encourage more children to cycle to school, St. Catherine’s has installed a cycling parking facility. Twenty permanent bicycle racks were donated to the school by Kryptonite, the American lock brand owned by Ingersoll-Rand.

"Kryptonite is excited to help assist St. Catherine’s bicycle initiative for its students," said Karen Rizzo, General Manager of Kryptonite in the US.

"Encouraging children to get on their bikes more often empowers them to learn about the joys of cycling. They have adventures, get exercise and, if their parents join them, help the environment all at once by cutting back on car trips. That’s a pretty fantastic accomplishment for a 10 year old."

The donation was made in conjunction with Kryptonite’s "Feel Free to Stop" promotion started in 2007. The company donated the same style racks to several cities in the US including Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; Blue Island, Illinois and Palos Heights, Illinois. St. Catherine’s of Sandyford is the first UK location for the cycle parking racks.

"Kryptonite wants to make sure that the kids who ride their bicycle to St. Catherine’s have an all-around positive experience," said Rizzo.

"If they lock their bikes properly each time to one of these racks when they arrive at school their bicycle will be there when they come out each afternoon."

Kevin Brennan is show here, cutting the ribbon with St Catherine’s headmaster Michael Ewing.

Mr Brennan, said: "Cycling to school is a great way for children to keep fit and develop their independence. ‘Bike to School Week’ is a really good way of encouraging children and their parents to get on their bikes, and develop a habit that promotes health and fitness for life. Staying safe while cycling is also very important and that is why I’m delighted to support the Bikeability cycling proficiency test to give the next generation the skills and confidence to ride their bikes on today’s roads."

British Cycling’s Go-Ride scheme is getting children involved in cycling, teaching them essential bike handling skills and providing access to quality cycle coaching.

Go-Ride, which is part-funded by Sport England, has recently expanded its coaching team with the potential to coach up to 90,000 children in 2008.

Go-Ride coaches are based around local cycling clubs and visit schools in their area to teach cycling skills. Children are then invited to get more involved in cycling through the network of Go-Ride accredited cycling clubs.

Go-Ride also supports the creation of school-club links, which helps provide clubs with a constant influx of new young members and helps everyone work towards our shared vision of more young people, more active, more often in cycling. It allows children to pursue an interest in cycling once the initial sessions at school are complete. The success of Go-Ride is dependent upon partnerships between British Cycling, clubs, schools, local authorities and voluntary organisations.

Set up in 2005, Go-Ride provided nearly 45,000 opportunities for children to receive professional coaching in 2007. By working with local cycling clubs, the scheme has also bolstered grass-roots involvement in the sport, with Go-Ride affiliated clubs reporting a 10 per cent annual growth in youth membership.

St. Catherine’s Go Ride cycling club – and the unicycling club – is run by editor Carlton Reid, and is affiliated to Newcastle Phoenix, a Go Ride cycling club.

In other news...

TotalMTB launches in Canada

TotalMTB, the award-nominated non-profit community, has launched in Canada. The Community Interest Company (CIC) was …