Thurrock school children will be treated to a display of jaw dropping stunt cycling with a health and safety twist from mountain bike stunt rider Rich Johnson – as he aims to teach them the same lesson he gave Simon Cowell.
The ambassador for safe cycling reprimanded the Britain’s Got Talent judge and multi-millionaire in front of 5,000 people at London’s Hammersmith Apollo for claiming cyclists look stupid wearing helmets.
But Johnson says he is living proof of helmets’ life-saving capabilities as he could not have learnt his dazzling array of stunts without falling off and banging his head countless times.
The safety message will be central to Friday’s show at Woodside Primary School, where children are being inspired to cycle as part of Bike It – the nationwide project by sustainable transport charity Sustrans.
Johnson, whose skills have also led to appearances on Top Gear and Blue Peter, said: “Cycling is super-safe but accidents do happen so when children are developing their skills it’s particularly important they wear a helmet. The stunt show is a way of grabbing these youngsters’ attention to get this message across.
“It is much more rewarding to perform these skills for a purpose rather than purely as entertainment, especially when you get idiotic comments from the likes of Simon Cowell.
“Hopefully it will encourage youngsters to use their bike as an everyday form of transport, and perhaps even lead to cycling as a favourite sport or hobby.”
Woodside Primary is one of 10 Thurrock schools taking part in Bike It, which aims to boost children’s health, confidence and sense of independence by encouraging them to cycle to school.
After the show children will learn how to give their own bikes a road safety check with the help of a Dr Bike mechanic.
Thurrock Bike It Officer Katie van Dop said: “In the Netherlands where I grew up cycling is as much a part of everyone’s day as brushing your teeth in the morning; I’m aiming to encourage a similar pro-cycling culture in Thurrock that will last long after this Bike It project.
“I’m sure this event will inspire the children to take lots of pleasure from riding their bikes safely during the half-term holidays and again when school re-starts.”
For more info about Sustrans and Bike It visit www.sustrans.org.uk.