Pupils at a local school can now whizz around a new bike track, building their riding skills and confidence.
Selwyn Primary School celebrated the official opening of its 405m bike track for student and community use on Monday.
The Bike On New Zealand Charitable Trust provided seed funding for the Bikes in Schools initiative at Selwyn School.
Rotorua Lakes Council helps to facilitate the process for any interested Rotorua school to access equipment and build the bike tracks.
Selwyn Primary School principal Peter Barker says it's "great" to officially open the track.
"It's been a wee while in the pipelines."
He says they had previously blessed the track with a karakia by Ngati Whakaue tohunga, and Monday's opening event was an extension of that.
Peter says some invited guests were instrumental in the project, and since it couldn't be held outside because of the rain, they had an impromptu ribbon cutting and bike ride with a couple senior students in the hall.
"It allows our students to learn to ride a bike in a safe environment, gain more confidence on bikes, and hopefully opens up more opportunities for them to get out and about in the community."
He says pupils were very excited about the bike track opening.
"Construction began earlier in the year. Having students in a limited space on the playing field while construction was taking place means they've kept their eyes on the process and the anticipation has built."
Peter acknowledges the support of Friends of Selwyn School, the Board of Trustees, as well as funding from Pub Charity, Lion Foundation and New Zealand Community Trust, along with Bikes in Schools and Georgie Griffiths from Rotorua Lakes Council, who had helped the school through the process and sorted bikes, helmets and health and safety, he says.
Rotorua Lakes Council safe and sustainable journeys manager Niki Carling says the Bikes in Schools initiative provides everything needed for kids to ride a bike every school day, within the school grounds.
"It means all of Selwyn Primary's students can have opportunities to ride a bike at school, which is a huge asset for the school and community."
The council helps schools apply, guiding them through decision making, and providing ongoing support to help them maintain their track and bikes, she says.
Council's Bike Ready programme also helps teach children how to ride bikes safely.
Whakarewarewa, Owhata, Mokoia Intermediate, Rotokawa, Sunset Primary, Selwyn and Rotorua Primary Schools currently have Bikes in Schools programmes, all provided seed funding by the Bike On New Zealand Trust.
The Bikes in Schools projects at Rotorua Primary School, Sunset Primary School and Selwyn School have asphalt tracks that include a pump track segment.
"We continually hear feedback that the benefits of the Bikes in Schools initiative go beyond improving the physical health and wellbeing of students," says Niki.
"Principals and teachers see an increase in confidence, self-esteem and the resilience of pupils.
"Parents see that it provides a safe environment for their children to learn skills and build confidence to ride safely, self-manage risks, and find enjoyment in being active."
Niki says the council is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging sustainable modes of transport and building a safe and sustainable transport system.
"Cycling is an important part of this picture. Encouraging a love of riding for tamariki will help the community to reach the council's sustainable transport goals; aiming for sustainable modes to make up 39 per cent of total mode share in Rotorua by 2030.
"These goals align with Central Government's strategic direction."
She says the Bikes in Schools programme helps to instil the habit of using sustainable modes of transport – "and Rotorua is an ideal city for residents to commute by bike every day".