Bright on bikes .. Lakiea (10, left), Priyah (6) and Tariq Bungard (8) ride their bikes in full safety gear while Rob Greaney looks on. Mr Greaney is part of Onya Bike, a local cycle safety initiative. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

When cycling advocate Adair Craik noticed a dearth of bicycles parked at an Oamaru school, she knew she needed to do something to get local children back on bikes.

Together with Rob Greaney, of Health Songs International, Ms Craik established the Onya Bike initiative, a pilot project to promote cycle safety to local children and their families.

The idea is to create an engaging and interactive learning experience through materials designed to teach and reinforce key messages about cycle safety, targeting primary school children and their families, and to encourage them to make cycling a part of everyday life.

The aim is to have more children cycling to school, increased awareness about the importance of safety equipment, more families cycling together, and the support of motorists.

Ms Craik said she had noticed a huge drop in the number of children who cycled to school, something she was keen to change.

“We all used to bike to school. There used to be hundreds of bikes in the bike sheds [at Oamaru Intermediate School] and on this particular day, there was two.

“I thought to myself, ‘we’re going to have this whole generation of kids that have never been on bikes’. If you don’t learn to ride a bike when you’re younger .. it’s not something that older people can adapt to easily.”

It also meant children were missing out on the freedom of riding a bike and the fitness aspect.

Ms Craik believed the popularity of scooters and more parents dropping their children off at school were major contributors to the lack of young cyclists.

The latter had created another issue – traffic congestion around schools – which made life more difficult for cyclists.

“The overall aim is to get more kids cycling safely,” she said.

“If a child is a safe cyclist, they will eventually become a safer driver around cyclists. That’s what I believe.”

To help get the message across, Ms Craik enlisted the help of Mr Greaney, a Weston-based songwriter, to write a campaign jingle.

His song, Onya Bike, was written to be catchy and make children think hard about the importance of cycle safety.

It will be accompanied by a music video, being filmed this weekend.

“It’s based on sort of a Scottish theme, using that famous Scottish farewell,” Mr Greaney said.

“I’m thrilled with the song .. it was actually really hard for me to get started but once I got started on it, it all fell into place.”

The project is being supported by local police and the Waitaki District Council.

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