Cycle-friendly schools and colleges (Cycling UK views)

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Headline Messages: 
  • Cycling to school or college helps pupils keep healthy and fit. 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: 
  • Although many children want to cycle to school, on average only around 1-3% do so each year in the UK. In the Netherlands, most children cycle to and from school.
  • Walking and driving are the most common forms of transport for the school-run.
  • Travel for education is responsible for about 29% of trips starting between 8 and 9 am.
  • The average distance travelled to get to school/college is approximately three miles.
  • The NHS recommends that 5-18 year-olds take at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, ranging from moderate activity, such as cycling and playground activities, to vigorous activity, such as running and tennis.
  • In England, more than one if five children in reception class, and more than one in three in Year Six is overweight or obese. In 2015 amongst 5-15 year-olds, 23% of boys and around a fifth of girls met the Government’s physical activity recommendations.
  • In Scotland, 28% of 2-15 year-olds were either overweight or obese in 2015.
  • In Wales, 11.6% of children in reception class were obese, with a further 14.5% classed as overweight in 2014/15. Amongst 4-15 year-olds, just half undertook physical activity for at least an hour on five or more days of the previous week, including 36% who did so every day.
  • 10-16 year-old boys who cycle regularly to school are 30% more likely and girls seven 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: 
January 2017

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