Towards Safe Routes to School
Since it’s beginnings as the former Cycling Promotion Foundation, We Ride Australia has focused on the goal of encouraging more Australian children to ride bikes. From the past to present day, We Ride Australia continues to develop and disseminate information on how we as a nation, can improve the activity and ultimately the health of our children and our environment. By improving active travel infrastructure, delivering national programs and policy to improve the health and safety of young Aussie kids, together we can make a difference.
Find out more about each step along the way of the journey towards, safe, active and healthy kids, with our Safe Routes to School initiatives.
November 2019 - Launch of RideScore Active Schools Program
Smart approach to boost riding to school on the Sunshine Coast
We Ride Australia and the Sunshine Coast Council, supported by the Australian Government, are set to launch an Australian first ride to school program – RideScore Active Schools – that uses technology to direct message parents when their children have arrived safely at school.
The Australian first program uses:
- Smart beacons to alert parents automatically when their child arrives at school
- Advanced use of mapping to identify safe routes to school
- App-based information and registration technology
- Bicycle education, and
- Encouragement awards for students who ride and scoot to school.
The program is expected to significantly boost the numbers of children scooting and riding to school as it provides parents with peace of mind about the whereabouts of their children for the daily trip to school, provides information on recommended routes and motivates and encourages children to reach milestones in the number of times they ride to school.
The Australian Government supported the initiative with an investment of $224,558 as part of its national Move It AUS – Participation Grant Program.
Federal Member for Fairfax, Mr Ted O’Brien MP said: “RideScore Active Schools is a fantastic example of helping children enjoy the fun and independence that comes with riding a bike, while also ensuring supportive parents have peace of mind that their kids are safe. This will help children across the Sunshine Coast region be active and safe and potentially provide the model for a national expansion.”
“This is one of many projects being funded across the nation as part of the Australian Government’s Move It AUS – Participation Grant Program, which is about building stronger community health and connections through sport and physical activity. It supports the Australian Government’s vision to become the world’s most active nation.”
The RideScore Active Schools program also received support from the Queensland Government and Stockland and the University of Canberra’s Centre for Action and Research in Public Health.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said: “RideScore encourages school students to be more physically active and healthy by riding their bikes or scooters to and from school.
“Encouraging more students to utilise active transport also helps to reduce traffic and congestion around schools and provides parents with greater peace of mind by knowing their children have arrived safely at school or left school to ride home.
“It is initiatives such as this that reinforce our vision to be Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart creative.”
We Ride Australia’s Peter Bourke said: “The school trip has become increasingly focused on being driven to school, with up to 70 per cent of all children arriving by car.
”This is not good for our children or their future health, but RideScore Active Schools addresses key concerns of parents with messaging from smart beacons letting them know their child has arrived at school or that they have left.
“We’re very pleased that the program has received substantial funding from the Australian Government, Sunshine Coast Council, Stockland and the Queensland Government in recognition of the comprehensive approach we have developed to boost riding and scooting to school.
”We want cycling, scooting and walking to school to be viewed as a healthy, positive start to the day for kids as it was just a few years ago,” Peter Bourke said.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government was proud to support the program as part of its $219 million investment in bike riding across Queensland.
“More than half a million Queenslanders ride their bike every week, which is why it’s important that we invest in bike lanes and projects like RideScore,” Mr Bailey said.
“We’ve built plenty of new bike projects across the coast like the David Low Way bike lanes and Mooloolaba to Maroochydore Cycleway, and programs like this play a vital role in making bike riding a popular choice to get around.
“I’m excited to see our next generation put on their helmets and get riding to and from the school gate.”
The launch event is being held at the Baringa State Primary School with Principal Noel Baggs welcoming parents, students, Mr Ted O’Brien MP, Sunshine Coast Councillors and other VIPs.
The program will trial a comprehensive framework that includes mapping of the safe routes to school, fitting of smart tech beacons and school sensors, bicycle education and a system of rewards when students reach pre-determined numbers of trips to school by bike or scooter.
The RideScore Active Schools program will undergo a full evaluation to enable it to be rolled out more broadly in the future.
Features & benefits:
– Real-time messaging tells parents when child arrives and leaves school
– Trips counted to track milestones and provide incentives to students
– Simplified app-based registration and information management for parents
– Maps of the local safe routes to school for all students
– Bicycle education for students
– Increase in student physical activity
– Improved road safety awareness
– Reduction in traffic congestion around schools.
For more information, please see the RideScore website, http://www.ridescore.org.au
More details on the Australian Government’s Move It AUS Participation Grant Program is available at
Media contact for further comment and images:
Stephen Hodge, Director – National Advocacy, Mob. 0411 149 910, email@example.com
March 2019 - Move It AUS Grant approval
We Ride Australia joins with the Sunshine Coast Council and University of Canberra to trial RideScore Active Schools.
We Ride Australia is delighted to have been awarded a federal grant from Sport Australia to boost children walking and cycling to school. The 12 month trial is designed to establish a framework that can be delivered broadly across Australia to make it easier for more ride and walk to school programs to be delivered.
Announced early in 2019 by the Minister for Sport Bridget McKenzie, the Move It AUS grant allows We Ride Australia to combine existing school bicycle education programs with innovative approaches using smart technology to address key barriers to active school travel.
Working in collaboration with the Sunshine Coast Council, the University of Canberra and major technology partners We Ride Australia is conducting the 12 month program with a view to establishing a scalable national approach to safe routes to school.
Speaking after the announcement, We Ride Australia’s Peter Bourke said, “We are delighted that Sport Australia has recognised the opportunity to bring smart tech together with school based bicycle education to boost walking and cycling to school.
“This will be the first time a trial will be conducted based on a very successful use of smart tech by the Sunshine Coast Council, cutting edge mapping technology and bike skills education in the schools.
The program relies on working with each school community to determine the needs of their school, provide skills and road safety training, technology to ensure parents know that their children have arrived and when they leave. It includes a range of supporting activities and resources to boost the physical activity kids are able to undertake in-school and on the way to and from school each day.
National RideScore Active Schools initiative features:
- Online web-based platform that translates engagement into benefits for the school in addition to providing educational, parent, teacher and student resources.
- GIS data-based mapping framework to provide a toolkit for each school that identifies safe routes between home and school and barriers and gaps in need of attention/funding for remedial works.
- Use of smart tech for rewards, engagement and measurement of active travel.
- Co-design workshops with parents, schools for planning and intervention.
- Bicycle road safety and skills education classes – ‘Bike Ed’
Why? We have stopped moving!
- Australian children are not physically active enough to ensure their own long-term health with nearly 71% of those aged 5 – 11 years and 91.5% of young people aged 12 – 17 years not meeting recommended levels of physical activity.
- Levels of physical activity in Australia have declined dramatically in the last 30 years.
- Physical activity ‘habits’ formed as children form the building blocks for future health throughout adolescence and adulthood.
Delivery of a framework;
- to build national policy leadership and engagement (tobacco control, vaccination and transport safety – speed, seat belt – programs are examples where national leadership on a key public health agenda has led to successful population health outcomes).
- to allow investment and engagement by corporates, philanthropic organisations, federal, state and local governments.
- to incentivise engagement by, and rewards for, school communities already under significant pressure to achieve national curriculum outcomes.
- to align national, state and local support for a program that benefits school children and youth and their local communities.
June 2018 - Smart Cities and Suburbs application
A national Safe Routes to School trial funding application was first lodged by We Ride Australia on 28 June 2018 with our project partners, the Sunshine Coast Council and the University of Canberra’s Health Research Institute. Lodged under the federal government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, the ‘RideScore Sunshine Coast Trial’* utilised smart tech to build on work done by the Council to engage children and respond to key concerns experienced by parents around independent travel to school. The trial established a scalable national model for a SR2S program that could be rolled out through Councils across the country to boost walking and cycling to school.
Future partnerships were to be sought with the many successful providers of school cycling programs throughout the country.
- The RideScore Sunshine Coast program builds on the success and learnings from the RideScore pilot and is the first crucial step in creating the Safe Routes to School program nationally.
- The program is designed to support healthy/active and safe lifestyle choices for students and their families whilst at the same time reducing traffic congestion around schools in peak periods.
- The program is a game changer as it incorporates personal sensors, real time arrival and departure notifications for parents, GIS mapping and a web-based engagement and data analytics platform to identify safe travel options and incentivise more active travel through gamification and wayfinding support.
- The platform provides critical data to local government and other approved government and non-government users to guide community infrastructure improvements, measure reductions in carbon emissions and to increase school-related road safety.
The Sunshine Coast Ride Score trial funding application under the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, was undertaken with the support of:
- the Heart Foundation
- Australian Sports Commission (now Sport Australia)
- The Member for Fisher, Andrew Wallace MP
- ESRI Australia
- the Queensland Police Service
- Regional Development Australia – Sunshine Coast
- Buddina State School, and
- Caloundra State Primary School.
*While this funding application was unsuccessful, our efforts were rewarded with a successful grant from Sport Australia’s ‘Move It AUS’ program in early 2019. The trial will be conducted from July 2019 until late June 2020. We Ride Australia has committed to co-fund the trial with the Sunshine Coast Council, Stocklands and corporate partners.
- Increase children walking, scooting and riding to school on the Sunshine Coast.
- Increase the safety for all children whatever way they travel to school
- Alleviate traffic congestion and improve safety around schools
- Improve health outcomes for children and their families
- Increase physical activity levels for school students
- Reduce carbon emissions
- Trial of an integrated national approach for a national Safe Routes to School scheme enabling 3.7 million Australian children greater opportunity to be active and healthy.
The RideScore Sunshine Coast trial is designed to address the challenges for local independent travel to school by students walking, scooting and cycling. The challenges for independent travel to school are widely recognised by Australian governments at all levels, by health experts and the community and a response that addresses this lack of physical activity by our children and young people and options for safe travel to school is broadly recognised as an issue of national significance and one worth solving.
February 2018 - Signatory to the Active School Travel: Pathways to a Healthy Future
We Ride Australia provided technical support and feedback to the development of the Active School Travel: Pathways to a Healthy Future Technical Paper and is a signatory to the Australian Health Policy Collaboration’s ‘Active school travel: pathways to a healthy future’ policy.
A special report titled ‘To make your city smarter, start with the kids’ stated “This policy paper is the work of a national collaboration of leading experts, researchers and practitioners… to support and encourage 3.7 million Australian school children, their families, carers and communities to be supported and participate in active travel to and from school.”
August 2017 - Kids on Bikes Promotional Video
In collaboration with BikeFilms.co, the Cycling Promotion Foundation produced a short promotional video encouraging more Kids on Bikes.
February 2012 - Active Travel to School Survey
In February 2012, The National Heart Foundation in collaboration with the Cycling Promotion
Fund conducted an online survey with a random sample of 1,005 Australian parents with school
aged children in relation to children and riding bikes to and from school. The findings from this report further fueled the CPF’s main agenda, advocating to governments at a federal and state level to support and provide funding for more active travel measures for children.
- The vast majority of parents surveyed have a bicycle in their household, whilst just under six in ten had cycled in the last year.
- Parents associate children riding a bike to school with a range of advantages, from the positive impact that it can have on their child’s health, to the role it can play in promoting their child’s independence.
- Nine in ten parents agreed that cycling is a good way to get fit, and that it is important for children to learn to ride a bike.
- Whilst seven in ten parents surveyed think it is important for children to be able to independently ride a bike, close to half do not believe that it is safe for children to ride a bike to school.
- There are some clear barriers to children riding a bike to school. Eight in ten parents surveyed agreed that there is too much traffic on the roads and there are not enough bike paths for children to cycle safely to school.
- Close to 60% of parents surveyed drive their children to school.
- Whilst nine in ten parents surveyed indicated that their child knows how to ride a bike, just over one in ten children are currently riding a bike to school.
- The reasons parents do not allow their children to ride a bike to school are centered around safety and the dangers posed by traffic and other road users.
- Parents surveyed indicated that they would be more likely to let their children ride a bike to school if safety, and the dangers posed by traffic and other road users was changed or improved.
- In spite of the relatively high proportion of parents surveyed who felt confident about teaching their child to ride a bike, 45% believe it is important that children receive formal cycle training.
- Close to a quarter of parents surveyed believe their child’s school encourages children to ride a bike to school.
- In general, parents surveyed agreed that the Federal Government should be doing more to encourage children to ride to school.
You can read the full report here.
November 2009 - Families on Bikes
In 2009, Kathy Brunning with the support of the Cycling Promotion Foundation produced a report which evaluated the Families on Bikes program which as designed to encourage more families activities together on bikes.
You can read the full report here.
If you would like to see happier, healthier kids riding or walking safely to school, find out how you can do more, by visiting our Support Safe Routes to School page.