Monday 27 September 2021

Photo of the day - 27: Bike to School Week


Photo: J Bewley/Sustrans

At a time when we are looking for ways to reduce pollution and carbon emissions, and even more now that there are issues with fuelling at the filling stations, it is worth considering providing a favourable environment for children to ride or walk to school.

As it happens this is the start of Bike to School Week, a time to encourage children to go to school on two wheels. However, there is an issue in getting children to go to school by bicycle. In a recent survey involving over 1300 children aged 6 to 15 years old, only 2% of them children currently cycle to school. The YouGov survey commissioned by the walking and cycling charity, Sustrans, also found that about 14% of children would like to ride to school. 30% of the children said they were worried about cycling to school, and 57% felt that there were too many cars in the immediate area around their school.

Some local authorities have decided to close roads to traffic in the areas around a school first thing in the morning and at school closing time (known as School Streets). Southwark Council have done that near where I live, in some of the roads around schools in Dulwich. 

I have noticed that there are more children on bikes on those roads. As a car driver (as well as a bike rider) it does sound a bit irritating that some of the roads I normally drive on are out of bounds at rush hour. But I must say, there are alternatives including taking the train or cycling too. I think it's more important to give children the opportunity to ride to school in a clean, safe environment, and enjoy bike riding. It's that sort of thing that can help girls and boys develop more of an appetite for bike riding, and in future we can become a nation more geared towards bike travel and active transport.

Also for those who would like to improve their bike riding skills and confidence when riding on the roads, Bikeability is a scheme that provides free training. I must say that the earlier you learn to ride a bike on the road, the more confident you will be on the road through the rest of your life. I have certainly found that through taking my cycling proficiency test - many many moons ago!

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