Cycle-friendly schools and colleges (Cycling UK views)

Cherry Allan's picture
Children cycling to school
Half of all primary-age children would like to cycle to school
Headline Messages: 
  • Cycling to school or college helps pupils develop their physical health and fitness. It can also help boost their confidence, independence and sense of self-worth, plus their navigational and road-craft skills.
  • Equally, promoting cycling to school is a good way to tackle local congestion, pollution and road danger created by the school run.
  • Involving pupils, parents, teachers and school governors in joint action to make the trips they generate more sustainable can unite a school community and provide a learning experience in social and environmental responsibility and project management.
  • Cycling is a skill for life. Encouraging as many children as possible to see it as viable transport helps ward off car dependency in adulthood, and contributes to reducing the volume of motor traffic in the future.
Key facts: 
  • About 50% of primary school children say they want to cycle to school, but in England only around 1% of children aged 5-10 and 2% of children aged 11-15 cycled to school in 2013.
  • In the Netherlands, around 49% of primary school children cycle to and from school, 37% walk and only 14% are brought and collected by car. In secondary school, the cycling share is even higher. 
  • At well over 40%, cars are the most common form of transport used for the school/college run; travel for education is responsible for about 29% of trips between 8 and 9 am.
  • The average distance travelled to get to school/college is approximately 3 miles.
  • In the UK, about 30% of children aged 2-15 are either overweight or obese and, without action, 25% of them could be obese by 2050. In England, only round 21% of boys and 16% of girls aged 5-15 meet the current physical activity levels for their age group.
  • 10-16 year-old boys who cycle regularly to school are 30% more likely and girls 7 times more likely to meet recommended fitness levels.
  • Children who walk or cycle to school concentrate better than those who are driven there.
Cycling UK View (formal statement of Cycling UK's policy): 
  • Involving the whole school community (pupils, teachers, governors and parents), schools and colleges should:
    • Actively recognise the health, social, environmental and educational benefits of encouraging students and staff to cycle.
    • Develop, act on and monitor School Travel Plans that have cycling at their core; and publish pro-cycling policies.
    • Arrange for Bikeability training and other activities to promote safe, fun and responsible cycling.
    • Provide high quality facilities for pupils who cycle (e.g. parking, lockers for equipment etc).
    • Remove all barriers to cycling (e.g. bans on parking cycles on the premises).
    • Not impose restrictions on those who do cycle (e.g. a requirement to wear cycle helmets).
    • Work with the local highways authority to improve road safety in the area.
  • Local authorities should:
    • Work positively with schools/colleges about cycling and offer resources to help them develop their Travel Plans.
    • Jointly identify hostile conditions on local roads and treat them to help make cycling to and from school/college as hazard-free, attractive and convenient as possible (e.g. by introducing 20 mph speed limits, providing safe cycling links etc).
    • School inspections and self-evaluations should assess the measures that school/colleges take to encourage active travel and reduce the impact they have on traffic volumes and road danger. 
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
November 2015

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