Cycle instructor steps away from role




Sport And Recreation

Phil Stevens has retired after nearly nine years at Sport Manawatu¯ teaching cycling. “The joy on their face when they realise they can ride a bike,” has been a highlight of his job. Stevens started in October 2013, when cycle instruction was led by the police as part of their road safety programme at that time. During the following years, the police have picked up other priorities, with Stevens leading the programme and police supporting and then minimising their involvement. Then the BikeReady programme was launched by Waka Kotahi, and three years ago Stevens was joined by Penny Yanko, who has also retired. “Together we made a great team. At the beginning, we would work with a whole class at once and bring teachers and parents along so that we had a safe ratio of 1:6. “We would ride around the block, stop at intersections, explain how to ride safely through them, then ride through the intersection and proceed to the next one,” Stevens says. “It was kind of like Mother Duck with all her little ducklings.” The scheme evolved from riding around the block to teaching the necessary skills as a set of drills — a bit like sports practice, Stevens says. He remembers being asked by a parent about what he was teaching the tamariki about the road rules because the kids were questioning the father about some of his driving. Stevens asked if the children were giving correct information. The parent said yes, and Phil replied “I guess our work here is done”. Another highlight of the job was seeing more children ride to school after being trained. But as fewer adults are cycling, they often feel uncomfortable on the road and think it is unsafe for their children. If they rode with their children, they would often see their kids are capable of riding to school safely, he says. “It is a good idea, to ride to school with your children and plan a preferred route with them.”