Cycling advocacy group Bicycle Network has launched a fundraising campaign to help save its Ride2School program.
The program has been promoting physical activity among Australian school children for 17 years but its funding from the Victorian government ended in June, leaving the Ride2School under threat.
Bicycle Network initially set out to raise at least $50,000 before the end of the financial year, and earned a momentary reprieve for the program when the RACV donated $30,000.
Bicycle Network CEO Alison McCormack said the RACV contribution, combined with another $17,800 raising by the community and the advocacy group’s members, took the total close to that $50,000 target.
“The initial fundraising amount will allow us to continue to work with a handful of the schools on our existing list, but there are many more that will miss out. We also have a long waiting list of new schools that have never experienced the benefits of Ride2School,” Alison said in a statement from the organisation.
“We are encouraged by the interest and have since increased our overall target to $100,000, but even that will only buy us a short amount of time.”
She said the fundraising campaign, the first of its kind run by the member-based bike riding organisation, had received overwhelming support in the past few weeks.
“People have told us the program means too much to too many people to let it end, and they have encouraged us to keep up the fight,” Alison explained.
Sport and Recreation Victoria announced it would discontinue its annual funding of $700,000 in June because of the introduction of a new active transport program in the State Budget.
Bicycle Network began the pioneering Ride2School program in 2006 to combat a dramatic decline in the number of children riding or walking to school.
Each year, Ride2School supports thousands of students in schools across Victoria to learn bike and road safety skills and empowers them to adopt healthy habits.
It also supports schools to develop safe routes that encourage children to travel actively and helps build robust communities.
In the past two years alone, the program has:
- Set new records to get nearly 500,000 kids involved in National Ride2School Day, Australia’s biggest day of active travel.
- Developed travel maps for more than 30,000 kids to actively travel to school safely.
- Achieved an active travel rate at participating schools that is nearly double the national average.
- Offered the organisation’s award-winning Mind.Body.Pedal program to hundreds of female-identifying and gender-diverse students.
- Built bike parking for 17 schools.