Parents' safety concerns main barrier to children cycling to school
New research shows children are switched onto the benefits of cycling

55 per cent of children would rather cycle to school than travel by car but only one per cent actually do, according to new research commissioned by Cycle England.

The research, commissioned to coincide with Bike to School Week, which starts today, also shows that 38 per cent of children seek the independence and freedom cycling would bring, but are prevented because of their parents’ concerns about their safety.

The findings were the result of an online survey conducted amongst a random sample of nearly 1000 children aged between nine and 11, across England and Wales.

Far from being the couch potatoes they are often portrayed as being, the children who were consulted showed they are switched on to the benefits of cycling with 33 per cent believing cycling to school would make them more alert and better prepared for the school day.

With the main barrier to more children cycling being parental concern, Cycle England hopes that during Bike to School Week, more schools and parents will encourage their kids to take part in Bikeability training – cycling proficiency for the 21st century.

More than 150,000 children have benefited from Bikeability to date and Cycling England wants to see 500,000 children trained by 2012.

Other reasons why children would prefer to cycle demonstrate a strong appreciation for the social, environmental, economical and health benefits of cycling to school:

• Over half (55%) say that cycling is more fun than travelling by car
• Over three quarters (80%) would prefer to cycle because it’s good exercise
• Three quarters (74%) say that cycling is better for environment
• Over half (59%) say cycling would save money on petrol
• Over two fifths (43%) enjoy the fact that cycling enables them to travel with friends
• Two fifths (39%) would prefer to cycle to avoid getting stuck in traffic

Travelling by car on the other hand leaves nearly a quarter of children feeling lazy and lethargic, a quarter feeling frustrated by the difficulty their parents have finding somewhere to park and a fifth noticing that their parents find the school run a stressful experience, partly because they get stuck in traffic.

Transport Minister, Paul Clark, said: “It’s so important to give children the skills and confidence they need to be able to cycle to school and to continue cycling as adults.

“Government funding of £10m is being spent on Bikeability in the coming year which will enable over 200,000 more school children to take part in the scheme and, as someone who recently undertook my own Bikeability training, I know how vital it is for children to learn the skills they need to cycle safely on today’s roads.”

Paul Robison, Cycling England’s Bikeability Manager, said: “Concern about safety is entirely natural but cycling is a life skill, and one that the vast majority of children want to master. We know that cycling to school, to friends, or just as a fun activity in its own right, can play a hugely positive role in a child’s overall development.”

Further details about Cycling England’s work programme can be found at www.cyclingengland.co.uk.