Most people will be aware now that the kids are back at school, if only because of the added congestion that returns once the school gates reopen. Congestion that could be eased if fewer people relied on gas guzzling vehicles to transport their children to school each weekday morning were it not for a number of schools issuing bans on kids cycling to school.
Safety on the roads is being blamed as a primary reason for not permitting or strongly discouraging children to cycle into school, as a number of headteachers are concerned that roads are too busy and traffic too much of a threat for them to be prepared to take the risk of allowing children to arrive on two wheels instead of four. Although walking is still an option for those with the time, travelling by bike is often a more practical approach due to the increased distance that can be travelled within the same amount of time.
Rows of bikes in bike sheds used to be a common sight in the school grounds, or if nothing else, a chain round the frame securing a bike to nearby railings. Sadly as people have been forced to become more careful where they leave bikes these days, this isn’t an option most people would be happy to go with anymore, but there seem to be very little in the way of argument why better facilities couldn’t be provided by schools to begin with.
Government initiatives in cycle proficiency and training, including officials going into schools to encourage cycling, seem to be rather contradictory if schools don’t practice what is being preached. Perhaps it would be useful if instead of spending tax payers money on telling people to cycle, the Government improved cycle paths and cycle storage facilities in UK schools and offered cycle purchase schemes to get more of the population travelling by people power rather than scrappage schemes that keep people dependent on cars.
CTC, the UK’s National Cyclist’s Association, have issued a leaflet, ‘Right to Ride to School’, providing guidance for parents to inform them on how to lobby schools to try and improve this situation. You can order a pack to get information and advice on campaigning to get your school to permit and encourage cycling to school by sending an email to [email protected].