The case for cycling: How more movement improves children’s lives

Three young children are standing astride bikes and smiling into the camera
This briefing is intended to equip you with arguments that are likely to be persuasive to politicians that might otherwise be uninterested or unsympathetic to pro-cycling policies

This campaigner briefing is based on the findings of a report called Move Free, written by the think-tank and urban consultancy Create Streets, published in March 2024. Cycling UK commissioned the report from Create Streets in order to explore how making it easy to get around towns and cities in as many ways as possible has a positive impact on our lives.

The briefing provides evidence and arguments on how providing space for walking and cycling improves children’s lives.

Key points from the Move Free report:

  • Giving children their freedom back: restoring children's freedom to roam by moving away from car-centric developments, encourages physical activity, reduces rates of obesity and related health issues.
  • Developmental benefits: independent mobility fosters curiosity, exploration and social interaction, essential for children’s cognitive and emotional development.
  • Enhancing mental wellbeing: children’s mental health is closely linked to their freedom of movement. Children who can explore independently develop a stronger sense of competence and autonomy, leading to better mental health outcomes.
  • Addressing inequality: children from disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately affected by restrictions on mobility, highlighting the need for inclusive urban planning strategies that prioritise active transportation and outdoor play.
  • Reducing traffic congestion: encouraging active transportation modes like walking and cycling to school not only benefits children and parents but also alleviates traffic congestion and pollution in urban areas.