Most children whether in primary or secondary education are going back to school this week. How will they travel there? When considering a choice of transportation for your school run, have you really thought about all the implications? Here’s why we think cycling to school is one of the best ways.
By Sylvia Gauthereau
According to the latest statistics, the average distance for secondary school children to travel to school is 3.5 miles and 1.6 miles for primary school children.
These are distances that should easily be cycled and yet, only 3% of all children cycled to school in England. Slightly more for secondary school children with 4% cycling compared to 2% of their younger peers. One of the most shocking statistics is that one in three children in Year 6 (10-11 years old) are obese or overweight.
1. Doctors’ recommendation
The NHS recommends that 5-18 year-old take at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Families always end up having really busy schedules so cycling to school is one way to incorporate some gentle exercise in your routine without having to make time for it. The correlation between the lack of active travel and independent mobility as a child and health in adulthood is widely documented.
2. You are in charge
A third of all traffic between 8-9 am is school run-related. This leads to some considerable congestion. Cycling gives your freedom back. No more waiting for a bus, no more anguish because you are running late due to a train delay or a traffic jam you find yourself in. No more late slips.
3. Listen to your kids
They want to cycle. Look at the Bike Around the Borough annual event. Children love cycling as it gives them the independence they crave. It’s also fulfilling to be able to move under their own steam. Don’t you remember when you were on your bike with your mates, growing up? Legs stretched out, feet off the pedals, smiling to the wind. What a feeling!
4. Be part of your environment
Children cycling (and walking) have a better understanding of their surroundings and their place within. They navigate better and notice more. It prompts and enables better social interaction with other people. It will decrease the risks of car dependency in adulthood.
Learning to cycle gives children a boost in confidence and increase their sense of self-worth. It’s a useful skill and just like learning to read and swim, it will stay with them for the rest of their life.
6. Greater good
By choosing to cycle to school over driving you choose to do something about pollution and congestion. You take a stand by rejecting the deplorable behaviour of those who clogged the school gate and surrounding pavements, contributing to road danger around other children on their way to school.
7. Active travel to school makes you brighter
Evidence shows that there is a link between more physical activity and enhanced academic attainment. Cycling to school would provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy some exercise before starting the school day, a gain that will last all day and all the way through adulthood.
8. Quality Time
Cycling with your children will give you the opportunity to do something together. Just like walking but more efficiently. When school is finished, it won’t be a problem to do a quick detour to the playground or to the shops to pick up a last minute item. Spontaneity doesn’t have to disappear when you have children.
9. Opens up their world
Once children are confident in cycling ability, this will widen their horizon and social circles. Easy to pop over a friend’s house, go to an after school club, to the local park or the library. New found independence can do wonders to a child.
10. It’s fun!
And almost instant joy inducing! And just like fun, it’s contagious. If you start cycling to school, others will be inspired to do so too. Your whole school community could then encourage other school communities to follow. And then, before you know it, you’ve changed the world!
At CycleFox we believe the bicycle has a big role to play in building happier, more vibrant and connected communities. Our mission is to help more people enjoy the fun and freedom of cycling.
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