Students as role models

  • Soort:Nieuws Fietsberaad
  • Datum:18-11-2010

This summer, on the eve of the Tour de France start in Rotterdam, some 500 first-grade students of seven secondary schools participated in a four-week competition to cycle the highest number of kilometres. Ultimately they covered 54,000 kilometres.

Rotterdam local authorities intend this project, Ride2scool, to contribute to traffic education for this group, to promote bicycle use as well as encourage the students to exercise more.
Each participating school received twenty bicycles to be used by students without a bicycle of their own. A previous study had shown that at some schools one in five of the students (many of whom are of non-native descent) does not possess a bicycle. Students who did have one, could participate on their own bicycle. All participants received a bicycle computer to register the kilometres. In addition cycling proficiency lessons were taught.
The project was aimed in particular at students in vocational schools. Research among first-grade students in secondary schools in Amsterdam has demonstrated there are major differences in bicycle use among the various groups. Only 29 per cent of students in vocational training cycle to school, compared to 91 per cent of those in pre-university education. The behaviour of their classmates therefore appears to be of major influence.
Ride2scool took advantage of this phenomenon, for instance by portraying classmates on the accompanying posters. The underlying idea is that first-graders are most influenced by role models from their entourage. Assisted by their sports teachers, the aim was to portray popular students in particular.
Interviews before and after the campaign showed bicycle use to have increased by some 10 per cent immediately after the project. Sixty-one per cent of students intend to cycle to school more often. Whether this is a lasting result will become clear after a second follow-up study.

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