Shocking figures reveal that only 2% of children cycle to school, despite many more wishing they could.
A UK-wide YouGov survey, commissioned by the walking and cycling charity Sustrans, surveyed 1,305 children aged 6-15 about their experience and views on their journey to and from school, and found that just 2% of pupils actually travelled by bike.
The figures have been released ahead of Bike to School Week, which launches today, 27 September.
Tragically, 30% of UK children reported to be ‘worried’ and 29% are ‘sad’ that vehicles on our roads make up the majority of greenhouse gases in the UK, with private cars making up the biggest part of this.
Just under half (40%) of those children surveyed said that the best way to bring down levels of air pollution near their schools is for more people to walk, cycle or scoot to school.
Air pollution from car fumes and tyre particles contributes to 40,000 premature deaths a year, and poor air quality around schools was highlighted as a real concern for children.
Over half (57%) described the environment around their school as having too many cars, while 49% said they were worried about air pollution near their school.
Reacting to the findings, Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans, said, “We must make it easier, safer and more enjoyable for children to walk, cycle, or scoot to school. Not only does it improve their health and wellbeing, build connections with others and foster a sense of community, it also helps to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, further benefiting their health, and the environment in which they live.”
Bike to School Week , run annually by Sustrans and Bikeability Trust, seeks to promote the benefits of walking, cycling and scooting to and from school, and takes place from 27 September to 1 October.
Families can make a pledge to cycle or scoot to school during Bike to School Week at: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/campaigns/bike-to-school-week-pledge/ , and teachers can access free curriculum-based resources provided for schools here: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/for-professionals/education/bike-to-school-week-teacher-resources/
As Bike to School Week launches, Sustrans and Bikeability Trust call on local authorities to make walking, cycling and scooting the easiest and most attractive option for children and families travelling to and from school.
One such measure local authorities can implement is School Streets, where streets outside schools are open to people walking, cycling and scooting and closed to motor traffic at drop off and pick up times, to help more children get active on the journey to and from school.
Xavier Brice added, “It is a sad fact that so many children find their daily journey to school unpleasant because of congestion and air pollution. It’s therefore vital that we make our streets accessible to all and pleasant to be in, working together to stop the public spaces around our schools being dominated by vehicles.”
Emily Cherry, Executive Director at The Bikeability Trust, said, “We are delighted to support Bike to School Week and work in partnership with Sustrans to celebrate cycling to school. Bike to School Week is a fantastic opportunity to inspire children to ride to school more often and to help them see the benefits of cycling to their own health and the health of the planet.
“Bikeability is available to all schools across the country and equips pupils with the skills they need to ride confidently and safely, whether that be to school, the shops or out with family and friends. Our new video helps schools understand the hugely positive impact Bikeability can have on pupils in the classroom and communities outside of the classroom. Alongside this, we have a fantastic set of online resources to help children, teachers and parents maximise the impact of Bikeability.”
For more information on the tools available to schools, please see this link: https://bikeability.org.uk/tools-for-schools/learning-resources/
Bike to School Week, run annually by Sustrans and Bikeability Trust, to promote the benefits of walking, cycling and scooting to school launches on 27 September, www.sustrans.org.uk/biketoschoolweek
Image credit: © J Bewley