Cycling to school not what it used to be

NEEDLE IN HAYSTACK: Burnside High School student Rebecca Ponton searches for her bike in June...
NEEDLE IN HAYSTACK: Burnside High School student Rebecca Ponton searches for her bike in June 1986. PHOTO: The Star archives
In the late 1970s, up to 75 per cent of students were making their daily commute by bicycle to some high schools.

However, new statistics from the city council show few schools had more than 10 per cent of students cycling to school last year.

While the city council statistics from 1979 showed 75 per cent of Burnside High students cycled to school, last year only seven per cent were making the trip by bicycle.

Burnside High principal Phil Holstein said the latest figures are “sad but not surprising.”

“Looking at the nature of the school’s location on a very busy Memorial Ave/Greers Rd intersection, the volume of traffic is a significant part of that [students cycling less]. I don’t think parents think it is safe to let their young children bike to school,” he said.

The schools with more than 60 per cent of students cycling in the 1970s were Cashmere High (60 per cent), Christchurch Boys’ High (67 per cent), Christchurch Girls’ High (64 per cent) and Papanui High (73 per cent). But last year, only 13 per cent of Cashmere High students cycled to school, while eight per cent of Papanui High students did.

Out of 15 schools recently surveyed, Christ’s College had the highest proportion of students cycling to school last year with 34 per cent.

The second highest was CBHS with 25 per cent. It also had the second highest increase in students cycling between 2016 and 2018 with a six per cent rise.

CGHS experienced the highest rise with a 10 per cent increase to 15 per cent.

City councillor Sara Templeton felt the increases had a lot to do with the opening of the Uni-Cycle route in 2016, which runs adjacent to CBHS and CGHS.

“It’s the one thing that seems to be the most different to the other schools, it’s having a high amenity cycleway right next to it. Before I was elected as a community board member and a councillor, I was part of a travel safe planning group at a local school and we did lots of surveying and lots of kids wanted to bike to school and the key thing that stopped them from biking was the parents perception of safety,” she said.

CBHS principal Nic Hill said it is possible the Uni-Cycle route has contributed to the rise. But he also thought the growth of cycling as a sport could be contributing to the increase.

“Cycling is a growing sport here, we are the national champions here two years in a row. Cycling as a sport is on a rise nationally and certainly at Boys’ High.”

However, CBHS and CGHS are not the only schools located next to a cycleway. Papanui High sits next to the Northern Line Cycleway and experienced a one per cent decrease in students cycling to school between 2016 and 2018.



Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter