Cycling to school can be a fun, healthy way for secondary school children to start the day. With training, and safe conditions, most secondary school children are capable of cycling independently. (Younger children shouldn’t cycle on their own unless there are off-road cycle facilities as their motor skills are still developing.) However, all too often heavy or fast moving traffic, lack of cycling facilities, narrow roads, or, in some rural areas, very hilly terrain, makes cycling to school unsafe or difficult. Ironically, up to one in five cars on the road at rush hour is on the school run.
In recognition of these issues, the government requires schools to draw up School Travel Plans with the help of their local authority in a bid to reduce traffic around schools. This includes identifying and working to address any barriers to children walking or cycling in safety, including lack of cycling facilities such as cycle paths. Some problems may be addressed easily, such as a need for children to be trained to cycle safely. Others may take longer or be more costly or even take years of campaigning for, such as a cycle paths. This depends on the authority in which you live and a range of issues such as practicalities of engineering works and available funds.
To find out what’s happening in your area, ask to see the School Travel Plan and ask about its progression. If you don’t think enough is happening, go to Cycle for life’s campaign page (listed below).
Bikeability the National Cycle Training standard and training programme run in schools
Bike It, a project run by the charity Sustrans, encouraging schools to increase numbers of children cycling safely to school.
Child Road Safety Strategy from the Department for Transport, including child cycling information.
Cycle for life’s campaign page
Cycle for life’s cycle training page
Department for Transport advice on School Travel Plans and cycling
Department for Transport guide for school travel plans for parents, teachers and governors
School Travel Plan.org includes basic information on getting started on a School Travel Plan - talk to your local authority for more details.
Sustrans Safe Routes to School Case Studies