Sustrans pilot project tackling decline in cycling to school

Pupils devise activity week encouraging their peers to get pedalling

by Mark Appleton   January 7, 2011  

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Time was when for a lot of kids the “school run” meant climbing aboard a trusty steel bike and pedalling through quiet streets to enjoy a day of loafing around in the classroom.

Not anymore. Within a generation there has been a massive decline in the numbers of children cycling to school, and today only 2% do so. That decline has in part been driven by parents’ fears for their offspring on crowded roads where fast-flowing traffic is the norm.

But a Sustrans pilot project in South Wales is tapping into the potential of peer-to-peer persuasion in the hope of reversing the decline in the numbers of kids independently making their way to school, be it by walking or cycling.

The charity is working with 10 pupils each in three schools to devise an activity week that will be rolled out to other schools in the area. The pupils from Bishop of Llandaff High School in Cardiff, Maesteg Comprehensive and St Cenydd School in Caerphilly are working together to devise a programme of activities targeting children, aged between 11 and 18.

The three groups have collaborated to tackle the areas of marketing, policy and influencing.

Sustrans project co-ordinator Liz Thorne said: “I’ve been really impressed with the dedication that these pupils have shown throughout the project and support from schools has been incredible.”

While the pilot project will be rolled out across 10 schools in Wales, the hope is that hundreds more could be included in future.

The project has been funded by Sport Wales with support from Welsh Assembly Government.