Schools, pupils and their families are being urged to take part in this year’s Cycle to School Week 2023.
Organised by The Bikeability Trust in partnership with Sustrans, the week runs from Monday, September 25 to Friday September 29 and is designed to encourage children to use pedal power to get to and from school.
On average, according to Cycling UK’s cycling statistics, just 2.2 per cent of children cycle to school compared to 35.4 per cent who are driven to school. However, the average journey to school is just 2.4 miles.
If just one child cycled to school instead of travelling in the car for a year, it would save almost half a tonne in carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to growing eight trees for a decade or charging 58,388 mobile phones.
Plus, cycling to school reduces congestion, improves air quality and makes neighbourhoods quieter and more pleasant places to live.
Chris Boardman, Active Travel England Commissioner, said: “Enabling kids to make their school run by walking, wheeling or cycling is what they want, and what we want for them.
“It gives a generation transport independence and by ensuring they have the simple freedom already enjoyed by millions of their European cousins, we give everyone else healthier and greener travel choices too.
“Cycle to School Week is fantastic opportunity to make sure all our young people are able to develop the skills and confidence they need to get to where they need to be under their own steam. Let’s put them first and get the joy back into their journeys.”
To encourage more children to cycle to and from school, as well as use other methods of active travel, such as walking, scooting or skating, a new West Sussex School Street programme will run from September 4, 2023 to March 4, 2024 at Swiss Gardens Primary School, Shoreham, Arundel CE Primary School and Thomas A Beckett Junior School, Worthing.
The programme will prohibit vehicles from entering the road directly at the school gates at drop-off and pick-up times.
The idea is to increase the confidence of parents and children to walk, cycle, skate and scoot to school.
After the trial period has ended, data for each site will be reviewed and presented to the cabinet member who will decide if a scheme is made permanent, amended or removed.
Children are ready to cycle to school independently once they’ve completed their Bikeability Level 2, which teaches them the skills they need to cycle confidently and safely on the roads.
Children in Year 5 and Year 6 who have taken part in Bikeability should be able to cycle to school by themselves or with friends.
Emily Cherry, CEO at The Bikeability Trust, said: “I am so excited for another year’s Cycle to School Week, in partnership with our friends at Sustrans.
“We are keen to make this year’s the biggest yet – it’s so important that children are active and making a cycling pledge is great for the health of the whole family, as well as our planet.
“We have reached record numbers of schoolchildren this past year with Bikeability, and we are so excited to celebrate the skills they’ve learnt on a cycling commute this September.
“By working with schools and families to encourage a more active school run, we’re now embedding healthy habits in the next generation.”
Chris Bennett, Head of Behaviour Change at Sustrans, added: “For generations of children, cycling to school has been an opportunity to be active and independent.
“Young people today are just as eager to enjoy those same journeys. That’s why the Government must prioritise making walking and cycling easier and safer for everyone, especially through schools programmes and the National Cycle Network – of which half of people live within a mile.
“We are delighted to partner with The Bikeability Trust for Cycle to School Week 2023, to encourage families and friends to walk, wheel and cycle together, building positive habits that last a lifetime.”
Participants can choose between pledging to swap one car journey for cycling, cycle to school every day, cycle with their family or discover somewhere new on a cycle ride.
To make your pledge, you can visit the bikeabilty website here, with all participants entered into a prize draw to win a brand new Frog children’s cycle (worth £535).
Schools can access a range of tools to encourage their pupils to take part in the week, including presentations, activities and lesson plans.
The resources will be available throughout the year, allowing schools to continue the conversation around active travel beyond Cycle to School Week.
You can access the resources here.