Cycling to school doubled in 2008

A very good result indeed

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The number of pupils cycling to class every day rose from 4 per cent to 8 per cent (out of 19,000 pupils surveyed) in ‘Bike It’ schools during 2008. Sustrans calls on Government to recognise this success and increase their support to help Sustrans double the number of children they reach over the next two years. Cycling to school is vital in reducing congestion and tackling childhood obesity.

In its annual Bike It Project Review released today, Sustainable transport charity Sustrans also confirms that pupils cycling at least once a week rose dramatically from 14 per cent to 26 per cent as a direct result of Bike It’s work to create a cycling culture in UK schools.

Paul Osborne, Sustrans Director of School Travel says, “The Bike It project continues to lead the way as one of the UK ’s most successful projects bringing about change in the travel behaviour of young people. Our fourth annual report shows clearly how much the 440 schools (and 89,000 children) we have worked with across England and Wales value the enthusiastic, hands-on support and popular activities delivered by our creative team of 43 dedicated Bike It Officers.

“A striking 49% of pupils say they would prefer to cycle to school. Their schools not only report less traffic but also say they see many more pupils being far more physically active. With the evidence so plain, I must call on Transport, Education and Health Ministers across the nations of the UK to look carefully at what we have achieved and to give Sustrans the financial resources and support it needs to ensure every school child can take part in Bike It.”

Echoing this message, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman MP says, “The Bike It report shows that Sustrans has found a tried and tested method for getting many more children and young people to take up cycling for their school journey. The project is beginning to show the benefits of cross government working with new funding coming from the health service. I hope that ministers can look seriously at the recommendations made in the committee's School Travel report and recognize that Bike It offers a model for future work across the country to reduce school travel congestion."

Bike It is a nationwide scheme, managed by sustainable transport charity Sustrans. It has been operating across England for four years and expanded into Wales in 2008. Alongside the environmental gain the positive health benefits are also being recognised by several primary care trusts in England.

Bike It Officers each support around 12 schools for a year or more to create a cycling culture within their community. They work closely with local authority staff, help organise cycle training, deliver new bike sheds, contribute to classroom work and provide information about safe routes to schools.

Bike It receives funding from Cycling England, the Department for Transport, Bike Hub the cycle industry levy, the Big Lottery Fund's Well-being Programme, the Welsh Assembly Government, Transport for London, various partner local authorities and several primary care trusts.

The Bike It Project Review can be downloaded from:

This result is indeed very good news and should, hopefully, reduce the obesity problem amongst children to some extent, as long, that is, the kids continue to cycle or walk to school on a regular basis.

In the areas such as Surrey – immediately bordering London on the South East – the unfortunate factor is that most children are transported to school by a parent in more often than not rather large cars; SUVs at times.

This not just only leads to clogged up roads and lots of pollution during the “school run” times but also to kids that just do not get enough exercise and then, as their diet often also if not helping, to children that are rather obese and some of them are that in the extreme.

The more of them that can be gotten onto bicycles and scooters, or encouraged to walk to school, and it would not harm the parents to escort them to school in the same manner, the better and the healthier a country we may have.

© 2009