Cycle-friendly schools and colleges (Cycling UK views)

Briefing
Children, teachers and parents all benefit from school run cycling

Cycle-friendly schools and colleges (Cycling UK views)

Headline Message 
  • Cycling to school or college helps pupils keep healthy and fit. It also has the capacity to 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 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. 
Policy 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 school/college is approximately two and a half 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, almost of a quarter of children in reception class, and over a third of children in Year 6 are overweight/obese. In 2015, 23% of 5-15 year-old boys met the Government’s physical activity recommendations (28% did so in 2008). Around a fifth of girls met the recommendations.
  • In Scotland (2016), amongst 2-15 year-olds: 14% were considered to be at risk of obesity, with a further 15% at risk of being overweight; 29% were at risk of being overweight/obese; 79% of boys and 72% of girls met the physical activity recommendations.
  • In Wales (2015/16), 11.7% of children in reception class were obese, with a further 14.5% classed as overweight. Asked about the previous week, just over half of 3-17 year-olds said they were active for at least one hour every day, but 11% said they weren’t active on any 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.
  • Danish studies show that cycling to school lowers young people’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Children who walk or cycle to school concentrate better than those who are driven there. 
Cycling UK View 
  • 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 the full detailed campaign briefing 
Schools and colleges should encourage cycling because it's good for young people, the local community, and the wider environment.