A Winnipeg school has turned its playground and soccer field into a community bike park, offering a chance for kids and adults to get active and practise their cycling.
“It really develops a skill that can be a lifelong passion for people,” said Anna Mangano, the principal at Arthur E. Wright Community School.
Complete with gravel paths, hilly mounds, and outdoor classroom and green spaces, the new bike park at the Maples-area school is designed to be used by both students and the rest of the neighbourhood.
“The intention was that we would build an active-living green space for people from birth to 100 years of age,” Mangano said.
Funding for the park came from the the Seven Oaks School Division, the city, the province, and the Winnipeg Foundation.
Five years ago, as part of its physical education curriculum, Arthur E. Wright Community School piloted a bike education and skills program that is now used in 24 schools across Manitoba. Over a number of grade levels, students learn bike commuting skills and bike maintenance.
A.E. Wright also has a “bike library,” that lets students can borrow bikes.
With all that education, students now have a place right outside their classroom to practise their new skills, Mangano said.
Previously, the field was “pretty flat — we had a few basketball hoops and a little soccer,” she said. “But now kids see this as a great opportunity to be active in lots of different kinds of ways.”
Jamie Hilland, a sustainable transportation planner with the consulting company Urban Systems, started the bike education program and worked to get the park built.
“We designed it to be a four-season facility,” he said, adding that the park can be used for snowshoeing and skiing in winter months.
The school says with limited affordable recreational options in the Maples, the bike park offers a community facility that can be used by everyone.
“I’ve been teaching mountain biking for seven years,” said Hilland. “To have a facility like this, especially in a residential area, that the community can access … I’m pretty stoked.”
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