Congratulations to Isabel Ross and theÂ Peel Region Cycle Instead Bike Week (Mandurah) who are both recipients ofÂ Australian Bicycling Achievement Awards presented in Canberra in June 2011.
Isabel Ross of Geraldtonâ€™s Midwest Area Senior Health Promotion Officer received the Bicycle Achievement Award of the Year in the Professional category for her outstanding work in bringing the fun and community building ability of cycling to a vast region in the Midwest. Overcoming the significant disadvantages of living in remote parts of the state, Isabel was able to create many sustainable cycling activities and events including the Fix My Ride Mt Magnet.
Isabel has successfully increased cycling in remote communities by building the capacity of shires and schools, coordinating a community bicycle project and advocating for a more supportive environment for remote cyclists. The results are:
- Twice as many remote schools and four times as many remote students participating in Cycle to School Day.
- Triple the number of remote events in Bikeweek
- One Bikeweek event achieved a 10-fold increase in participation.
- Increases in bike access, cycling and school attendance through Fix My Ride, a community based bicycle repair project.
- One remote Shireâ€™s first ever investment in dual use pathways.
Isabel has demonstrated that through dedication, perseverance and â€˜thinking outside the boxâ€™, there are very few barriers that canâ€™t be overcome in getting more children to ride a bike. One of Isabelâ€™s great programs has been Fix My Ride Mt Magnet. â€˜Fix My Rideâ€™ is an innovative community-based bicycle repair project operating in the remote town of Mt Magnet that aims to use bicycles as a platform for building relationships between different generations and to engage otherwise disengaged students in education.
The pilot project ran in 2010, with 40 indigenous adults and at-risk youths repairing more than 50 bikes, resulting in increased cycling in town. Attendance at school increased during this period, with improved behaviour managementÂ among students and positive interaction between students from different family groups.
One parent also volunteered to become involved in school workshops, which was viewed as a huge success by the school who were working hard to engage parents. Strong partnerships and community participation also kept running costs low, enhancing long-term sustainability.
The Peel Regionâ€™s Cycle Instead Bike Week events are the result of nearly six years of work by the South Metropolitan Public Health Unit that has built partnerships across localCouncils, government departments and 14 community groups.
For the past 10 years the South Metropolitan Public Health Unit has implemented the Peel Region Cycle Instead Bike Week (PRBW) initiative in collaboration with local government agencies, businesses and clubs/groups.
The initiative supports the Department of Transportâ€™s Cycle Instead Bike Week by stimulating community action in the provision, maintenance and/or development of quality cycling opportunities, environments and facilities in the Peel Region. InÂ 2010, 17 organisations collaboratively planned and implemented 10 events during PRBW (March 21-28), attracting 961 participants (370 riders and 591 spectators) across the community. Objectives include:
- To promote the â€˜Cycle Insteadâ€™ messages and strategies (health, transport, recreational and environmental benefits)
- To promote safe cycling to increase and retain participation levels in physical activity
- To provide low cost opportunities for the community to try cycling
- To acknowledge and reward community members who already cycle
- To promote existing cycle clubs, agency services, environments and facilities in the community
- To utilise existing State-wide campaigns.
Underpinning the success of this unique regional event is the collaborative approach involving multiple organisations, thus broadening the range of events to appeal to all community members and resulting in increased participation by non-regular cyclists and/or novices. This model works well to achieve sustainable physical activity initiatives built on current state-wide campaigns.
Many program partners now independently provide additional low cost physical activity options for Peel residents, e.g. bike clubs offer ongoing community cycling activities such as a grandchildrenâ€™s ride day.