02 Oct 2022

#Watch Safe Cycling Lessons underway at this Portlaoise primary school

They say riding a bike is something you never forget, and if so then fifth class pupils at Holy Family Senior School in Portlaoise are getting life lessons this term.
All six 5th classes, 187 pupils, are taking part in six weeks of bicycle training, culminating in them cycling on the public road.
“They love it, they come to school and say 'great, cycling today'. They are doing great, all of them could cycle but some had bad habits like not looking properly or wearing helmets, so it is great that they are learning how to cycle safely,” said teacher Ms O'Keeffe.
It is hoped the lessons will encourage more children to cycle to the new school campus on the Southern Circular Route in Portlaoise, where a total of over 2,200 children converge to attend five primary schools.
“We have bike stations here at the school, and shared cycle paths leading to it, so we hope more parents and children will start to cycle,” Ms O'Keeffe said.
More pupils cycling could help the school achieve their Active Flag this year.
“It is all about promoting exercise too. We have running groups in the morning, and cycling is another element to that,” she said.
The lessons are being taught by Malcolm and Jason from South East Cycling Safety, with a charge of €10 to each pupil, subsidised by the Road Safety department in Laois County Council, and by the Road Safety Authority.
“We hope to extend these lessons to other classes if the funding comes available. We are encouraging the pupils to cycle to school in a safe and proper manner,” said principal Des Sutton.
Malcolm explained the lessons in detail.
“The first two lessons teach the importance of a helmet and safe clothing, about speed, parking correctly, checking the bike for things like working brakes, what weather is ok for cycling, and listening when cycling, it is all about safety and awareness,” he said.
On lesson three on Wednesday November 8, the children were learning how to signal and turn onto roads, in practice roads marked out on the school playground.
“Next week they will learn how to cycle in groups, how to talk in groups and stay alert. In lesson 5 and 6, after we do a written risk assessment, we take them out on the road,” Malcolm said.
They have taught courses in Portlaoise Gaelscoil and Educate Together already this year, among primary schools across Leinster.
“We have been teaching cycling at St Paul's NS since 2012, but last January this new programme was introduced that meets a new national standard,” said Jason.

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