The story of Cycling Into The Future (CITF) began in a classroom at Sheppard Public School in Kitchener where Phil Martin was teaching his Grade 5 students about Terry Fox. The class was inspired by his courage and dedication and decided that they wanted to finish his goal by collectively running the 3,000 km from Thunder Bay to Victoria. The students ran laps around the school yard throughout the winter but by spring they did the math and realized that they would not finish by the end of the school year. They were very discouraged until one student said “what if we brought bikes?” So the students started bringing their bikes to school and riding around the school yard to cover the distance faster.
After school on one of the first days that the kids brought their bikes to school, Phil witnessed one of his students riding out into Weber St. and almost being hit by a fast moving car. He was devastated and started doing some inquiring about how kids learned to ride bikes. What he found out is that most kids receive no instruction on how to ride safely. Once they can ride on two wheels, they’re left to figure it out themselves by observing their friends and older siblings.
Upon discovery of this major educational need, Phil Martin’s grade 5 class began to design a program that would teach kids to ride their bikes safely and confidently on neighbourhood streets. In the planning stages of this course, Phil told his class that they would probably not be able to ride their bikes on the road as part of this course and one of the students said “Having a bike course without riding on the road is like having a meal without a main course.” So Phil made the road ride work by reaching out to Can-Bike instructors to run the on-road portion of the course. This student’s comment has become a guiding principle and made CITF one of few organizations in Ontario that do on-road training with kids.
Built around modules that develop skills in such areas as tire repair, riding and on-road safety awareness, CITF has expanded to schools in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Woolwich Township. Since 2014, CITF has trained over 4,000 students in six modules that give kids a good foundation for cycling on neighbourhood streets. The goal of our non-profit organization is to deliver a comprehensive cycling education program to all students in the Waterloo Region when they are in Grade 5 or Grade 6.