Is this the worst school in the UK for cycling?

Sam O'Shea
Cherry Allan's picture

Is this the worst school in the UK for cycling?

Eleven-year-old Sam O’Shea has spent the entire year campaigning to be able to cycle to St Paul’s Primary School in Portsmouth. He has gone to great lengths to convince his school it should be encouraging, not banning, cycling.

This week as the summer term ends, St Paul's has still not lifted the ban which stops him parking his bike at school.

In October 2008, St Paul’s said the road outside the school was not safe, so Sam and his family persuaded the council to bring forward a planned re-design of the road layout. They also arranged for a professional risk assessment, which found that the street around the school was safe for children to cycle on. Yet the headteacher continued to insist cycling was too dangerous and that she could not allow Sam to bring his bike to school. Furthermore, the council offered to provide cycle parking, which the school did not take up. 

The school said I needed to do cycle training, which I’ve done. Then they said the road layout was dangerous, so we got the council to change it, but they still said it was unsafe. I just want is to ride my bike to school. It’s good for the planet, and it’s good fun. Sam O'Shea

In desperation, Sam and his family enlisted the help of CTC which asked to meet with the headteacher and board of governors to explain the risks and benefits of cycling. Recently the headteacher finally offered to meet CTC at the beginning of next term – when Sam will have moved on to secondary school.

At every turn the school has tried to stop Sam from cycling. They have delayed meeting and avoided CTC’s offers of help.

It appears they are simply waiting for Sam to leave so they do not have to deal with his request. It is unbelievable that a school would actively discourage children from taking regular exercise when obesity is such a problem. Research shows schoolchildren who cycle are healthier and happier than those who don’t – it makes sense for schools to promote cycling, not ban it.

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