Update 31 March 2023: This article has been amended to include up-to-date participation figures.
Overflowing bike sheds, proud parents and ear-to-ear smiles could be found all over the country today as thousands of kids took part in another joyous National Ride2School Day.
National Ride2School Day is Australia’s biggest celebration of active transport. 871 schools participated this year, seeing some 366,000 students pedal, scoot, skate and walk their way to school.
In Victoria, a record-breaking 500 schools got involved – a huge increase on both the 429 last year and previous record of 450 in 2021. This saw participation numbers hit new heights in the state, with a record 210,000 students taking part.
Schools all around Victoria embraced the beauty of active transport with parades, obstacle courses and hard-earned breakfasts.
Ascot Vale Primary School was a hive of bike-related activity with plenty of fun and color. Victoria’s Minister for Education Natalie Hutchins and Bicycle Network CEO Alison McCormack were there to take it all in.
“It just makes your heart sing seeing so many kids getting into the spirit of Ride2School Day, having fun on their bikes and building habits for healthy and happy lives,” McCormack says.
At St James the Apostle Primary School in Hoppers Crossing, the bike racks have been relatively empty since the return from COVID. That changed today with more than 100 bikes and scooters crammed in for National Ride2School Day 2023, with the carpark and drop-off zone left bare instead.
“Not only does walking and riding to school keep our children healthy, happy and ready to learn, it also helps the environment,” said PE co-ordinator at St James the Apostle Primary School, Joe Grimes.
Similar scenes could be found from Torquay to Clifton Hill, with overcrowded sheds causing bike riders to turn elsewhere for parking solutions, such as the surrounding grass or rails outside the school gates.
Meanwihile in Perth, students at Noranda Primary School got into the swing of things with a spacious obstacle course on the oval and nutritious snack stations for those working up an appetite.
Ride2School Day at @NorandaPS our @YourMove team provide a before school obstacle course and sourced. A great day for motivating our students to ride to school. @Ride2School @WA_Edu_News pic.twitter.com/QVbdTNs4L3
— Noranda Primary School (@NorandaPS) March 24, 2023
National Ride2School Day is the peak of Bicycle Network’s broader Ride2School program, which works to help children get their recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise by making it easier to ride a bike to school.
In the 1970s, around 60% of school children engaged in active travel on the way to and from class, but this figure has steadily declined in the decades since. Today, more than two thirds of students arrive by car instead.
By collaborating with students and schools to encourage healthy habits around active travel, Bicycle Network is working year-round to reverse this trend.
Its Open Streets trials – where selected streets are opened to active transport only during drop-off and pick-up times – are another way Bicycle Network is making inroads in this space.
‘We are very proud to be reaching active travel rates of over 70% during Ride2School Day and during our Bicycle Network Open Streets trials,’ said Gabby Young, Physical Education teacher at Coburg North Primary School.
The impressive turnout for National Ride2School Day 2023 is a promising sign that the disruptions of recent years are behind us, and we can continue sowing the seeds for a new generation of active travellers.
“Thank you to all the schools, students, and families who took part in National Ride2School Day 2023,” says Bicycle Network’s Ride2School Program Manager, Manon Dolet.
“Actively traveling to school is fun, keeps us healthy, reduces our carbon footprint, fights climate change, and gets us focused for a full day of learning! We already can’t wait for the 2024 edition … but of course, at Bicycle Network, we believe every day should be Ride2School Day!”
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.