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Safety concerns cited, but teachers and staff can still cycle in

A school in Ipswich has removed bike racks to discourage children from cycling to school because of safety concerns, while leaving similar facilities in place for teachers and other staff.

Deputy head teacher Martin Jarvis told the Evening Star that the decision to remove the racks and advise children against cycling there had been made at a governors’ meeting and resulted from the school’s setting close to a busy road.

Mr Jarvis told the newspaper: “We would love to encourage children to cycle to school but given our location in Woodbridge Road, between 8.30am and 9am on a weekday it's not a safe environment for a young cyclist,” adding that the situation would be reassessed once year five and six pupils had completed Bikeability training.

The paper quoted a spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council, who said that around 80% of pupils at St Helen’s walked to school, the highest proportion of any school in Suffolk, adding that children throughout the county were encouraged to travel to school using sustainable methods, if possible.

Meanwhile, John Matthissen from Suffolk Green Party condemned the decision, saying: “It absolutely runs against the grain of where we need to be going over the next decade or two. Where can you park your bike if you can't leave it securely on school grounds? It's effectively stopping it.

“We know that we have to get more children - more people - cycling and walking and this is going in the wrong direction.”

He added that if children were being discouraged from cycling to school because of nearby traffic safety issues, taking measures to improve safety should be the focus of attention, rather than stopping pupils from riding their bikes.

“We really don't want this to develop into a trend,” he added. “The council and schools have got to be big enough and bold enough to entertain that slight risk - the problem is that we have an insurance mentality that pervades areas of life and it's gone too far.”

Last month, we reported on a school in Wednesbury, West Midlands, that had introduced a similar ban due to safety concerns.

 

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.