Discovering your town
Pupils and over 50s Discovering their Town by Bike.
If you live in the Dungannon area you may have noticed an increase in the number of secondary school children and over 50s cycling around town. We initiated a pilot project in the early part of 2019.
Secondary school project
After carrying out a school survey in the Armagh and Dungannon area at the end of 2017 and found that cycling came rock bottom in activities offered as part of the curriculum.
Stephen McNally from Cycul explained:
“Cycling isn’t unpopular, it’s simply the lack of equipment and guidance that prevents schools from offering it as part of the curriculum. We took our Ride Leader training through Cycling Ireland in 2018 which gave us access to the Southern Health Trust’s bike pod in Dungannon, located within walking distance of the schools. We then contacted 3 local secondary schools, St. Patricks Academy, Drumglass High and St. Patricks College and arranged for a group of Year 8s from each school to go cycling during their PE class.”
St Patrick’s College, Windmill Wood, Dungannon.
The pupils started with training sessions in the car park, concentrating on basic bike handling, looking over their shoulder, making strong hand signals and controlling the bike at lower speeds. Then they went out on some quiet country roads and off-road sections building up confidence before venturing through town:
“It’s been incredibly popular. We’re only working with Year 8s during the pilot but there’s huge interest across all ages to get involved. The goal is simply to give pupils the skill and confidence to get out on their bikes, discover their town and even start cycling to school”.
Drumglass High, Dungannon.
…I can say without doubt that it helped many of these newcomer students to establish friendships and connections with other classmates – J Hoines, Drumglass High School
…you have encouraged the young people to get out on their bikes again and given them the confidence to cycle further than before – J Kelly, St Patricks Academy
We ran a parallel project with a group of over 50s, mostly women, some who haven’t cycled in 50+ years:
50+ group in Windmill Wood, Dungannon.
“The group started by cycling 500m in week 1 and finished 6 weeks later cycling over 15 miles along the Newry Canal. If you remove the barriers and give people the opportunity, you discover how popular cycling can be - regardless of age.”
To finish off the project all 40+ participants went to Craigavon Trails at the end of June for their first experience of riding off-road on mountain bike trails.
We would like to thank Mid Ulster Council, the NI Executive and TBUC for supporting the project.
Cycling isn’t unpopular, it’s simply the lack of equipment and guidance that prevents schools from offering it as part of the curriculum.