A growing group of Mangawhai kids have saddled up their two-wheelers and joined forces as a ‘bike bus.’
Most Kiwi kids go to school on a school bus. Then there are those who, for the safety of the younger ones, form a group and make the trip as a ‘walking bus.’
Commonwealth Games mountain biker Sadie Parker and her son Kasey rode the route first last summer then decided, as a few others joined, to make it an official means of shepherding kids safely to school.
Anywhere from 12 to 20 kids from 5-years up can be seen in convoy along the walkway from Estuary Drive, across the Causeway and through the village on their way to school.
“There’s no hurry,” says Sadie. “We have a designated leader each day and its good for the younger ones to be mentored by the older kids. We just take it steady which gives them all confidence in riding in a group, being aware of other riders and also aware of traffic when they’re on the path.”
Even Mums are now riding with the bike bus to school and whole families joining group riding at weekends, so the flow on effect has to be positive.
With safety high on the agenda Sadie adds: “We just need the walkway extended up past the industrial area for safe cycling as we are riding beside cars and trucks that are doing 80kmh leading into the causeway – no barrier, no path! Perhaps a friendly reminder to those traveling in vehicles who see us to slow down and be cautious, which they generally are.”
Sadie runs Bike Mangawhai, which encompasses all things ‘bike.’ Bike Mangawhai grew from her coaching mountain biking in Auckland, and biking was obviously spreading around Mangawhai through the development of MAZ and its cycleways plus a number of tracks about the district.
“The MAZ trails are perfect for kids and families and even 5-year-olds are zapping confidently around them,” says Sadie. “Several of these riders competed in the Onerahi triathlon a fortnight ago and have already competed in the Top Of The Rock 15km mountain bike race and the Whangarei Mountain Bike Club Cyclocross.”
There have also been a number of bikes around with little use and in need of attention so having such an experienced bike expert in our midst is indeed a bonus in sorting any problems, instruction on regular maintenance and finding the right bike to fit the rider.
Sadie has now added added ‘Hike’ to Bike Mangawhai and is now stocking Ahnu footwear plus a range of hiking and walking shoes and clothes. Leading brands like Marmot equipment and Hoka One One running and trail shoes are just ideal for making the most of the many hikes and walking tracks that abound Mangawhai.
SAFE CYCLING: Mangawhai Beach School pupils snake their way to their destination every weekday morning.