'Kids are commuters too': Winnipeg streets need to make room for kids, dad says

Jamie Hilland of the Green Action Centre bikes to school with his kids every day, and he says the roads aren't welcoming for Winnipeg's young people.

Daily bike train organized to help kids deal with challenges of cycling to school

The Green Action Centre leads a group of kids in a group bike ride to school every morning. (Pierre Verriere/CBC)

A Winnipeg dad says the city needs to make streets more bike-friendly for kids on their way to school.

Jamie Hilland bikes to River Heights School with his kids and a group of their peers every morning as part of a "bike train" they've dubbed "the Flaming Cheetahs."

Hilland is the program manager at Winnipeg's Green Action Centre and started the ride to keep his kids safe.

He said it's tough for kids on the road and Winnipeg's bad bike conditions are a barrier stopping kids from getting more physically active.

"Kids are commuters too, and we often forget that in our city planning," he said.

"There's that little bit of animosity sometimes between cars and bikes, but we also forget there's kids on bikes, and they're just doing their best to get to school every day, and sometimes we don't consider them in our planning at all."

On Wednesday morning, the Cheetahs invited a handful of city officials to demonstrate the challenges children face every day. They were joined by representatives from the City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Police Service, the Winnipeg School Division and Bike Winnipeg, riding to school from Hilland's home in Wolseley.

International walk/ride to school month.

7 years ago
Duration 0:34
Students, parents, school and community members walked and biked to school on Wednesday to promote active and safe transportation.

The ride-along was part of the group's celebration of International Walk to School Month, and was followed by a school-wide walk around the neighbourhood.

Hilland said he wants to see more bike lanes and more secure bike parking to deter theft.

"We want to see kids walking and biking," he said. "Physical activity gets them going everyday. They learn better."

Hilland said he started the bike train so his kids could benefit from safety in numbers.

"That's sort of one of the main reasons we do the bike train: it's bigger and it's more visible," Hilland said. "I'm in my yellow jacket, I've got my yellow hat, I'm at the front as visible as I can, we've got flashing lights and there's a bunch of us.

"I'm hoping that makes a difference," he said. "I'm sad we have to go to that extent to make sure that we're safe on the roads, but that's the reality we deal with."