Traffic education thought differently

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On the way to becoming the Most Bicycle-Friendly School 2023, teacher Axel Hauser has implemented some interesting projects around the topic of traffic education. He tells us in an interview how this came about and what is still to come.

Facts about Axel Hauser:

  • Trained machinist 
  • second studied profession is sport and technology teacher
  • Coach and leader of an MTB racing team 
  • Teacher at the Realschule Oberkirch with projects in the area of bike workshop, riding technique training and traffic education
  • Bike-Pool instructor at the Center for School Quality and Teacher Education in Ludwigsburg
  • Instructor for the Baden-W├╝rttemberg cycling associations
  • Trainer and advanced trainer for teachers in the area of cycling in schools
  • Developer of and trainer for school mentor training in cycling in Baden-W├╝rttemberg
  • Traffic representative of the school

 

1. What is your project on cycling about?

Several projects on cycling are underway at our school. One important project is the cycling lessons for grade 5 in regular physical education classes. Here, students are taught how to ride a bike properly. You could also say that an elementary area of traffic education is covered. In addition, we have two mountain bike workshops for all grades, in which the students learn how to ride off-road and the corresponding riding techniques. For the technical enthusiasts, we also offer a workshop workgroup in which we maintain the school's bikes and teach important skills in the use of bicycle technology. Last but not least we have an Erasmus project where we do cooperative projects with schools in the European area (Spain, Greece and Lithuania).


2. How did you get into cycling yourself?

I am a passionate athlete and cyclist and have noticed that fewer and fewer students can ride a bike sensibly. Therefore, the idea was born that we as a school must also understand this as our educational mission. With this idea, I was welcomed and supported by my school management and was also able to experience great support with my dealer and KTM.


3. What made you decide to incorporate cycling into your teaching?

In the educational plan in Baden-W├╝rttemberg, the topic of "rolling, driving and gliding" has been part of physical education for some time. Unfortunately, the implementation at other schools fails again and again due to the lack of infrastructure. At our school, we have invested a lot of money and time in recent years to build this up and consider ourselves fortunate to now be able to implement cycling in this way. The enthusiasm among the learners is huge, which is reflected in the high registration numbers.


4. What is your personal philosophy behind cycling or your approach to it?

Cycling broadens the horizons and the range of motion of adolescents. The bicycle is the first real means of transport with which students can travel long distances. Children become independently mobile and can explore their living space in a new way. It is important to teach the children how to use the bike properly so that they can get around safely.  In addition, important coordinative and conditional abilities and skills are acquired.
 

5. What do you see as the benefits of such a project?

The main benefit I see is that we enable children to get around safely by bike. We also convey the fun of cycling and everyone understands that the options for getting around are not limited to public transport or the automobile.


6. How do the children like the bicycle lessons?

The enthusiasm is so great that there is hardly any sick leave in the cycling lessons. The children are always happy to have the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike properly. Most parents cannot afford to do this because the modern bicycle is beyond their technical skills. In addition, parents often have little knowledge of proper riding techniques, as well as the rules and regulations on the road and in the forest.


7. The secondary school Oberkirch was named Germany's most bicycle-friendly school in 2023 and the concept also won an award from the Baden-W├╝rttemberg accident insurance fund. Was it easy to convince others of your project?

Our concept has grown over the years and has continued to adapt to the needs of the school. Thanks to the support of many stakeholders, a whole range of cycling projects can be offered at Secondary School Oberkirch. As soon as outsiders see the projects and the infrastructure in the original, the enthusiasm is immediately apparent. Great efforts of persuasion are then no longer required.


8. How is the program received at other schools?

Approximately 200 children are on the mountain bikes each year. Grade 5 cycling lessons reach between 120 and 130 students. In the other bicycle-related projects, another 70 to 80 students are involved. Here one can speak of an outstanding balance. The total number of students at the school is in the range of 750 students*.


9. What do you hope for in the future?

Many enthusiastic and motivated students and colleagues who are happy to support the projects. I am also pleased that we now have long-standing partnerships with manufacturers and retailers who will certainly support us in the further expansion of the projects. Another project could be to win over the other schools in the town for an overall concept.


Author: Cornelia Urkauf