Causes Week 2020: Teaching youth of all abilities to cycle safely

Causes Week runs this year from Dec 20 to 25. It shines a light on various individuals and groups, and shows how they are making a difference through their chosen causes within the community.

A Singapore Cycle Safe Programme session organized by the Singapore Cycling Federation before the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CYCLING FEDERATION

SINGAPORE - With more cyclists hitting the roads and parks during these Covid-19 times, the Singapore Cycling Federation's (SCF) aim to make the sport accessible and safe for everyone is a bonus for the community.

Launched in 2016, its Singapore Cycle Safe Programme works mainly with kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and junior colleges to teach youth how to cycle and do so safely in different environments such as park connectors, roads and cycling events.

To date, about 5000 students from 31 schools have participated in the programme.

The sessions are usually held at schools, parks or at the Singapore Sports Hub, where they are taught practical skills such as how to navigate tight corners and make decisions when following a route.

SCF general manager Mahipal Singh said: "We want cycling to be a core life skill. Cycle Safe was introduced to ensure that anyone who gets on a bike knows the fundamental of being safe while riding.

"We are trying to advocate for every young student to be orientated to cycling at a young age."

Two years ago, the Singapore Cycle Safe Programme expanded its reach to include students with special needs and disabilities and has since worked with over 100 students.

SCF sports development manager Andy Png, who oversees the programme, said: "As we moved forward, our mandate was to have inclusive cycling.

"We wanted to engage more people to take up cycling as a sport or for leisure."

The SCF approached cycling coach Christian Stauffer, who has worked with national para-cyclists, for tips and the association has since equipped five of its 20 regular coaches from the programme with the relevant skills to train youth with disabilities.

Coaches are required to come up with a customised training plan, which is often tailored to individuals to ensure that the training environment is conducive for them.

To accommodate trainees with disabilities or special needs, the student to coach ratio is reduced from about one coach to 15 students (1:15) to 1:2 or 1:5. Teachers and caretakers will also be on-site to offer assistance.

As much as possible, the SCF also brings in adaptive bicycles for those with certain physical disabilities.

These include hand bicycles - which are bicycles that are moved using arm power - for students who have impairments affecting either both legs or a combination of the upper and lower limbs.

Programme coach Eugene Quan said: "Being inclusive is very important. We don't want to take away their chance to cycle because some of them can cycle very well.

"I hope it can change (some of the negative perceptions that the) public may have of them and lead to them being accepted into society more readily."

Visit this website for more information on the Singapore Cycle Safe Programme.

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