TAMWORTH’S Zac Rizzi has loved riding his bike to school for the past three years, but it would seem he’s in the minority of today’s kids.
Thirty years ago more than 80 per cent of Australian children rode bikes to school, or walked, but in recent years statistics have shown that has fallen to around 20 per cent.
Research released last week in South Australia shows the percentage of the state’s children walking or cycling to school has halved in a single generation. As the rates of childhood obesity continue to climb, many are lamenting the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of our children, a concern ratified by the latest research.
For 12-year-old Zac, who finished primary school last year at St Edward’s, two wheels were better than four when it came to getting to and from school.
He was in Year 4 when he was able to ride his bike – a school rule – and did so regularly with two other friends. So keen were he and brother Toby on pedal power that they sold their motorbike to buy a couple of pushbikes.
But a question to Zac on just how many kids at the school rode regularly adds further weight to the most recent statistics.
“There were mainly just the three of us,” he said.
It’s an assertion backed up by mum Cathie.
She says it made sense for Zac to ride as they only lived a few kilometres away from the school and she trusted him to do the right thing on the road.
Zac, who will start high school at McCarthy this year and won’t be able to ride any more because of the distance, said the only trouble he’d ever experienced was when he took a corner too fast and struck a bin.
A motorist dropped him home on that occasion but he wasn’t grounded for too long.
As well as being a great form of exercise, Cathie, who rode to school when she was in primary school, said it also developed Zac’s sense of responsbility and independence.