New initiative literally allows pupils to get on their bike

Ellon Academy pupils will be literally getting on their bikes thanks to a new cycle loan scheme.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 12:30 pm
Principal teacher Nat Coe and rector Pauline Buchan join a group of pupils to open the Ellon Academy Bike Library
Principal teacher Nat Coe and rector Pauline Buchan join a group of pupils to open the Ellon Academy Bike Library

A fleet of state-of-the-art bikes as well as safety equipment such as helmets are available for pupils to borrow on a short or long-term basis.

The initiative is currently being piloted in Aberdeenshire at Ellon Academy and Kellands Primary in Inverurie, in partnership with the charity Sustrans.

Principal teacher of pupil development Nat Coe is leading on the project at Ellon Academy.

He said: “Sustrans presented us with an opportunity to use funding from the Scottish Government to develop a scheme to encourage young people to use bikes.

"We used the money to buy around 50 mountain bikes, and kids can apply to take it away for six, eight or even 12 months.

"It is just a way to encourage cycling and support young people with their wellbeing and families who can’t afford to drive their kids to school.”

The bikes’ usage will be tracked by GPS monitors to help Sustrans evaluate the project’s effectiveness.

Mr Coe added: “My role at the school is all about giving opportunities to pupils who didn’t have them before.

"I grew up in a town like Ellon and having a bike when I was a teenager was my passport to independence.

"I am keen for the library to benefit kids during school time, but I am equally passionate about it being used during the school holidays and weekends.”

To borrow a bike pupils will complete an online form which will be assessed by the school’s leadership team for approval.

Depending on the initial pilot year the scheme could be extended so that parents and carers can borrow bikes too.

The community is also being asked by the school to consider designs for the storage facility to make it a community focused project.

Julie Arbuckle, Sustrans bike coordinator, said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer bike loans to pupils in two Aberdeenshire schools through our Access To Bikes pilot project.

“Riding a bike should be something every young person gets to experience, so being able to provide the use of one to those who wouldn’t otherwise have that freedom is really important.”