Exeter in Devon is reporting an increase in the number of children cycling to school, with 20 percent now doing so regularly, compared with the UK average of just two percent.
Cycle Exeter, run by the county council, have had a campaign going for some time and schools have organised a wide variety of schemes and events.
Andrei Burton, one of Britain's top mountain bike trials riders and Devon County Council’s cycling ambassador, has been inspiring students with his school shows, biking breakfasts have been held, the police have done free ID stamping on bikes, there’s been a ‘bling your bike’ competition, repair workshops, velodrome trips, group rides and lots of training.
Teenage girls have been receiving expert advice on how to feel and look good on a bike through such events as a fashion and style workshop. ‘Beauty and the Bike’ is a project aimed at overcoming negative images of cycling.
Cycling increases in Exeter – named last year as one of the country's first Cycling Demonstration Towns – are not limited to its school and college students. Automatic cycle counters across the city show that 1.094 million trips were made in 2008, a 37 percent increase since 2005. The aim is to reach 1.6 million trips a year by 2011.
Cycle Exeter are now running a campaign called ‘Bright Up Week’ to encourage cyclists to be safe and be seen as the clocks go back by wearing bright, reflective clothes and making sure their bike has lights and reflectors. They are offering 10 percent discount vouchers for bike lights or reflective accessories to everyone who makes a pledge to cycle more.
Zsolt Schuller, Devon County Council’s Cycle Exeter project manager, said: “With the evenings drawing in and 20 percent of children in Exeter regularly cycling to school, all road users need to take extra care and look out for others.
"We want people to carry on enjoying the freedom of our city all year round – we don’t have to put our bikes in the shed just because winter is on its way. Our next challenge is to help people cycle safely and with confidence during these winter months.”
For more information, visit www.cycleexeter.org.uk.