Pupils who walk for more than 3km between home and school in Eersterust have been given a gift of mobility.
MEC for Roads and Transport Dr Ismail Vadi this week went to the area to give them bicycles.
He handed over 150 bicycles to pupils from six primary and secondary schools during an event held at Prosperitus Secondary School.
The handover was part of the Shova Kalula Bicycle Project, a national initiative by the Department of Transport launched in 2007.
To date, more than 30000 bicycles have been donated in communities across the province, 8000 of them in Pretoria.
The project aims to maximise the use of non-motorised transport and eradicate late-coming by pupils who walk long distances to get to school.
“Due to the challenges of traffic congestion and integrated public transport, pupils get to school late and exhausted. This brings a lot of concerns to teachers because the children miss lessons; at times they are overtired to concentrate in class,” said Prosperitus principal Rafael Griffiths.
He said most learners came from disadvantaged settings and walked long distances from home to school, because their parents could not afford to provide transport fare.
Project manager for the Department of Transport Jabulani Mtshali said: “We have selection criteria on how bicycle beneficiaries are chosen.
“And one is that the distance between home and a school for the pupils must be between 2km and 3.5km.”
Each of the primary schools – Nantes, PS Fourie and Norridge – received 20 bicycles.
The secondary schools got 25 bicycles each for beneficiaries in Grades 3 to 12. The schools were Fred Magardie, Eesterust and Prosperitus.
“We want to promote cycling as a mode of transport in communities,” said Vadi. “It is a low-cost mobility solution to low-income households.
“The focus provision for bicycles is mainly learners, because they are the future leaders of our country.
“We must try by all means to curb all the obstacles stopping them getting their education.”
Considering the safety of students who will be riding bikes to school, the department and the project took all the beneficiaries on a cycling rules workshop.
They were taught ways to avoid incidents that could possibly put their lives in danger.