Friday on Bicycles initiative encouraged pupils to cycle to school

Hawaii Express, a sports equipment retailer, reached out to the PR Strategies team in the spring of 2023. Their objective was to assist the NGO Rattaga Kooli in promoting bicycles as a convenient mode of transportation for school commutes.

We immediately began searching for ways to raise awareness about bicycles as a mode of transportation among school families and to encourage schools to enhance bike-friendliness on their territories and the surrounding areas. As a result of our discussions, a plan was formulated to launch a campaign which involved celebrating Fridays on Bicycles at the end of each week until the conclusion of the school year. A total of 76 educational institutions across Estonia participated in the seven-week campaign, resulting in a remarkable 22,102 bicycles being counted in their parking lots.

The PR Strategies team ensured that the campaign page texts and appeals to Estonian schools were both engaging and informative. Additionally, the agency assisted the Rattaga Kooli team by organizing media communication. Throughout the campaign, more than 30 publications appeared in the form of various articles and interviews.

The participating institutions included kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools from both large cities and small communities.

"We were delighted to see a diverse range of educational institutions participating in the campaign, including small rural schools with less than 100 students and large gymnasiums with over 1,000 students. We didn't single out the school with the highest number of bicycles because the circumstances under which schools operate vary. What matters most is that all participating schools committed to improving cycling conditions during the campaign," commented Tormi Tabor, a board member of the NGO Rattaga Kooli.

A feedback survey on  Friday on Bicycles revealed that there were various motivations for participating in the campaign. Some aimed to encourage students and teachers to adopt more environmentally friendly modes of transportation, while others sought to promote physical activity within the school community. Some participants were motivated by the chance to win a prize, as a new city bike was given away to one school each Friday, courtesy of Hawaii Express.

"We are thrilled to have contributed to increased physical activity among children. During the campaign, we also had a special offer on school bikes in our stores, where many children and young people received a high-quality helmet for free along with bicycles at a discounted price. Wearing a helmet is the most affordable life insurance for a cyclist, significantly contributing to children and young people learning to enjoy cycling and outdoor activities safely," commented Jürgen Janson, the Manager of Almare Hawaii Express.

In addition to prioritizing safe traffic practices, Tormi Tabor also highlighted the establishment of a network of bike ambassadors as a significant outcome of the campaign. These ambassadors, including principals, teachers, parents, and students, represented schools and took on the responsibility of monitoring bicycle usage conditions and proposing ways to increase the number of bicycles. "We now have nearly 100 people in the bicycle ambassador network, allowing us to share experiences and collectively develop the field," said Tabor.

The NGO Rattaga Kooli's team hopes to transform the campaign into an annual initiative and pilot it during the colder seasons as well. Tabor described the challenge of encouraging both children and adults to ride bikes in autumn when the weather becomes cooler and rainier. Disproving the common myth that bicycles are only suitable for good weather will be an initial step in these future plans.

PR Strategies team is grateful to Hawaii Express and the NGO Rattaga Kooli for the engaging and noble mission you entrusted to us.

Photo:  Liina Savolainen, the bicycle ambassador of Randvere School