The latest Sustrans survey results for participating schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland show that the percentage of children cycling to school every day has more than doubled within the first year of starting to work with the charity.
Sustrans also say the number of children cycling to participating schools at least once a week has increased to 26.6 percent. That means the number of children being driven every day to schools that work with Sustrans has dropped from 27 percent to 24 percent over the year.
Sustrans works with teachers, parents, children and local authority staff, helping to organise cycle training, deliver new bike sheds, contribute to classroom work and provide information about safe routes to schools to help children cycle to school.
There are currently 58 Sustrans Bike It officers working with 1390 schools, with a total of 511,158 pupils enrolled in those schools.
Sustrans’ Free Range Kids campaign highlights some of the problems faced in the UK and the potential solutions:
- There has been a long term decline in children’s travel independence. In 1971, 80 percent of 7-8 year olds travelled to school without an adult according to a study by transport expert Mayer Hillman. 42 percent of primary school children are now being driven to school according to the Department for Transport’s 2010 National Travel Survey. At 8.35 am nearly one in every five cars in urban areas is taking children to school, typically a distance of a few miles (NTS survey).
- According to a Policy Studies Institute (PSI) report, in Germany 7-11 year olds cross main roads alone, walk home from school alone, travel to places other than school, use buses, and cycle on main roads up to three years earlier than children in England.
- Sustrans believe one major factor for such a difference could well be the UK’s attitude to speeding – 36 percent of drivers admit to speeding in 30mph areas at least once a week, and only half of people consider driving at 40mph on a 30mph road dangerous, according to figures gleaned from PSI, the road safety charity Brake and Direct Line insurance company.
- Sustrans’ Free Range Kids campaign aims to create environments that encourage independent, active children. It calls for area-wide 20mph speed limits in residential and built up areas and investment from government in safe routes to make walking and cycling the norm for local journeys, particularly the school run.