Record-breaking round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont has given his backing to an initiative designed to get drivers to give Scottish children the space they need to cycle to school in safety, yesterday helping to launch the Give Me Cycle Space campaign at St Mark’s School, Barrhead, East Renfrewshire.
"Campaigns like this are essential because you have to understand that a lot of road users aren't cyclists so they're just not aware of what they need to do on the road to act differently around a bicycle as opposed to a car,” explained Beaumont, quoted on STV.
That was especially the case when the cyclist was a child, he continued, “because they are just learning to use their bikes and going through their cycling proficiency, so doing their first miles to and from school is absolutely perfect to get experience.”
The six-week campaign, co-ordinated by Cycle Scotland, coincides with the annual upsurge in the number of pupils using their bicycles to get to and from school thanks to warmer and drier spring weather and longer hours of daylight.
It is focused on seven areas across Scotland - Glasgow, Inverclyde, Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, Moray, Perth and Kinross, and East Renfrewshire, with schools in each area being visited by stunt cycling team, The Riderz, Scotland's stunt cycling team.
At yesterday’s launch, six primary school pupils joined Beaumont, holding banners saying “Give us at least 1.5 metres" and "We want to cycle to school".
"We're trying to highlight the opportunity to stay healthy, get active and stay safe on the roads,” Beaumont went on. "I think it's massively important, I'm really passionate about this - I grew up in Scotland cycling from an early age and it's something that I've grown to love.
"I know how important it is to stay healthy and I know how much of a social activity it is as well. But you can only do that if the roads are safe and other road users give children plenty of space, it gives them more confidence and just looks after them.
"To get to school safely the kids need to have other road users giving them plenty of room on the roads, making sure they have confidence to cycle with their friends and families," he concluded.
Ian Aitken, chief executive of Cycling Scotland, commented: "The Give Me Cycle Space campaign achieved incredible results last year, contributing to huge increases in the number of children cycling in the schools we targeted.
"In some areas we saw levels of cycling to school double, for example in Orkney the percentage of kids riding their bikes to school rocketed from 9% to 18%.
"I think the mixture of strong communication to drivers, supported by children getting their Bikeability Scotland training, really gives parents the confidence to let their kids start using their bikes to get to school," he added.
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.