Scotland: Employers offered interest free loans to encourage bike use by their staff…
while cycling on the school run doubles at 'Cycle Friendly' schools
Businesses and other organisations in Scotland are being invited by Cycling Scotland and the Energy Saving Trust to apply for loans of up to £10,000 to help promote cycling among their staff. The money has been made available as a result of extra funding being allocated to its Cycling Action Plan by the Scottish Government.
The interest free loans of up to £10,000 being made available by Cycling Scotland can be used for a range of initiatives aimed at encouraging employees to use bikes for their commute, or to provide facilities for those who already do so.
Examples could include provision of cycle parking, showers, lighting for cycle paths and bike shelters, or installation of dropped kerbs. The loans can be repaid over a period of up to four years, and applications, which will be dealt with on a first-com, first-served basis, must be received by 15 June.
Another area that is being targeted by Cycling Scotland is getting more children to ride their bikes to school - earlier this week we reported on the the launch of its Give Kids Cycle Space campaign to encourage drivers to make more room for children riding their bikes to and from school.
Yesterday Bishopbriggs became the first town in the country where all primary schools have achieved Cycling Scotland's Cycle Friendly Award, with the number of pupils cycling to school there doubling over the past 12 months - a rate of increase that Cycling Scotland says has been replicated in participating schools across the country.
Meanwhile, yesterday saw the seventh and final primary school in Bishopbriggs receive its Cycling Scotland Cycle Friendly School Award, making the East Dunbartonshire town the first in the country where all local primary schools have secured that status.
Cycling Scotland's Cycle Friendly School recognises those primary schools that have made a commitment to get more children cycling to school through the promotion of cycling culture throughout the school, with consequent benefits for the environment and the health of the children themselves.
Ian Aitken, Chief Executive at Cycling Scotland said "We would like to congratulate Bishopbriggs on becoming the first town in Scotland to have all primary schools achieve Cycle Friendly School Award status. It's fantastic that every child in Bishopbriggs now has the right facilities, infrastructure and training available at school to make cycling an easy and practical choice.
"New travel statistics published this week show that the number of primary age children cycling to school in Bishopbriggs has jumped from around 3% to over 7% in the last year, which shows that the award plays an important role in getting more children cycling."
Under the Scottish Government’s Cycling Action Plan for Scotland, the country has a target of 10% of all journeys being made by bike by 2020, and pupils at one school in Bishopbriggs, St Matthew’s, have almost hit that target a decade early, with 19% traveling to school by bike.
Councillor Una Walker, Convener of East Dunbartonshire's Education Committee, commented: “This really is good news for the pupils and the staff at our schools. By encouraging active travel, in this case cycling, we are helping pupils achieve their recommended daily exercise of 1 hour a day. We know from research that exercise on the journey to school, makes children more alert, and able to focus on their learning when in class”.
Prominent among the bodies promoting cycling in the area is the community-based, not for profit organisation, East Dunbartonshire's Cycle Co-operative (ED's Cycle Co-opwhich was instrumental in getting Bishopbriggs' primary schools signed up to the Cycling Scotland Cycle Friendly School Award scheme.
Later this month, on 28 May, it is organising a “rainbow ride” which will celebrate all seven schools achieving their awards, with parents, teachers and pupils of each school dressing up in a specific colour of the rainbow to ride through the town to mark their success, and a cycle festival is also planned for 19 June.
Anne McNair, co-director of ED's Cycle Co-op said, “This national first has been achieved through a partnership approach with East Dunbartonshire Education Services and lead by ED's Cycle Co-op which continues to support all the school Head Teachers, staff, parents and pupils, develop their knowledge, skills and confidence on a bike.”