Sustrans has revealed that the number of pupils cycling in 24 schools in Conway in North Wales and Neath Port Talbot in the South of the principality have trebled due to the success of the Bike It initiative since it was introduced in Wales a little over a year ago.
The sustainable transport charity says on its website that prior to Bike It being implemented in the two areas in September last year, only 13% of children there cycled to school at least once a week. That has now leapt to 38%, helping improve children’s health and reducing local transport congestion and carbon emissions.
It added that the proportion of children who never cycle to school has fallen by nearly half, and it is hoped that similar success will be seen in the Welsh capital, Cardiff, where Bike It was launched this September.
The Welsh Assembly Government wants to treble the number of children in Wales using their bikes to get to school within the next four years, but Sustrans says that it has concerns about how this will be achieved and has called for more initiatives such as Bike It to be implemented to enable that goal to be achieved, saying that “consistent support is needed for schools across the country in promoting walking and cycling to school.”
It says that an average journey distance to school of just three miles makes it easy to travel to school by bike, adding that “with one in five thirteen-year olds in Wales classified as obese - a comparatively high figure to international levels - the benefits that cycling regularly can bring to children's health cannot be ignored.”
Bike It aims to help schoolchildren, parents and staff overcome the obstacles that prevent them from cycling to school, with its officers arranging sessions covering bike training and maintenance, drawing up work to be done in the classroom, installing facilities such as bike sheds and supplying information on safe routes that can be used to travel to school.
Bike It in Wales is operated by Sustrans Cymru, with funding from the Welsh Assembly Government and the bike industry via the Bike Hub, and the local initiatives in Cardiff, Conwy and Neath Port Talbot benefit from local council funding.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.