Almost 200 schoolchildren will pedal their way through the streets of Castlebar on Thursday next May 19 in a novel road safety campaign. Specially trained Garda cyclists and cycle instructors will pass on road safety skills that could help to keep the children safe and alive on the nation's roads.
Each team will be accompanied by a judge at the event in Castlebar and tested on a wide range of cycling abilities, as part of an initiative by Mayo County Council and Mayo Garda Siochana. The students have been undertaking cycle training skills from the Gerry Butler Mayo Cycle Safety School throughout the school year. "It is crucial that people learn how to cycle safely on our roads from a young age, and we aim to show them some of the key aspects of road safety, and it is also a great way of showing pupils that there are very real, much healthier and environmentally friendly alternatives to using the car," said Noel Gibbons, road safety officer.
Eva Gannon, Green Schools travel education officer, An Taisce, stressed the importance of cycling safely. "Cyclists don't have steel armour round them like drivers do, but when cyclists receive cycle training there is no smarter form of travel than the bike," she said. The teams consist of three students over the age of 10. Complete with bicycle and helmet, they manoeuvre their way through the traffic and utilise the lessons they have learned during cycling proficiency courses in their schools over the past year.
The event is being organised in association with the Mayo Garda Siochana, Road Safety Authority, Mayo County Council, Bus Eireann and Mayo Civil Defence. "This great competition gets children to think about their own welfare when cycling. And getting children to be aware of safety issues will help improve the image of cycling - and so increase its popularity," said Inspector Mandy Ganyor from Castlebar Garda Station. "During the competition the children learn vital lessons on how to cycle in a safe and responsible manner. I hope that this competition spurs on more children to get on their bike and get active."