Viewpoint : June 2017

Cycliste averti program: For the wellbeing of children and the society of tomorrow

We all agree. Better road sharing requires greater respect among the different users, as well as greater respect of the rules. All this can be taught – and the sooner the better! Many European countries have long been teaching the principles of road safety at school and in real life situations, so that children are well-prepared, whether on foot, on a bike, or later on, at the wheel of a car!
Tested three years ago and officially launched last year, the Cycliste averti program is offered by Vélo Québec and its partners to grade 5 and 6 elementary students. It is designed to teach budding cyclists the rules of the road, as well as proper cycling etiquette. The 15-hour program was developed with the vital and invaluable support of physical education teachers and specialists and includes a bicycle safety theory class, six hours of closed circuit biking, a group outing in neighbourhood streets and a practical cycling exam, also in the streets.
This year, Cycliste averti is being implemented in about fifty classes in Montréal, Mauricie, Lanaudière, Québec City and Montérégie and affects around one thousand students. The program is such a success that the demand exceeds our financial capacity to ensure its dissemination. Thanks to the contribution of partners who believe in this approach*, Cycliste averti has evolved from a pilot project to an official program. It is recognized by the municipal community and a growing number of school boards and road safety stakeholders, but the extent of its deployment remains limited. In fact, when it comes to promoting healthy lifestyles, disease prevention and daily physical activity, Cycliste averti deserves much more recognition and should target all elementary schools in Québec.
At a time when the Québec government is committed to increasing physical activity among young people, this program dovetails perfectly with the objectives of the Department of Education, Recreation and Sports and all matters related to safety on Québec roads. Few programs respond to as many issues regarding the wellbeing of children – and, in turn, the society of tomorrow, which is why we hope that the Department of Education, Recreation and Sports will support its widespread implementation.

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO

*The Cycliste averti program is an initiative of Vélo Québec, developed with the financial support of the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec, Québec en forme, MEC, CAA-Québec Foundation and Montréal physiquement active.