The CTC have rounded on a Portsmouth school’s decision to finally hold a meeting with them over their bike-to-school ban – weeks after the pupil who forced the issue will have left the school for good.
As reported by road.cc earlier this year, 11-year-old Sam O’Shea has been campaigning to allow St Paul’s Primary School in Paulsgrove to let him park his bike there.
But despite his best efforts, a positive safety assessment by Portsmouth City Council and a hefty amount of national newspaper interest, Sam has been unable to persuade the school or its governors to relent and allow cycling to school.
He leaves in the next couple of weeks – some eight weeks before the school has granted the CTC a meeting to discuss the situation.
The CTC has now accused the school of waiting for Sam to leave and has posed the question: “Is this the worst school in the UK for cycling?”
CTC Campaigns Coordinator Debra Rolfe said: “At every turn the school has tried to stop Sam from cycling. They have delayed meeting and avoided CTC’s offers of help.
“It appears they are simply waiting for Sam to leave so they do not have to deal with his request. It is unbelievable that a school would actively discourage children from taking regular exercise when obesity is such a problem. Research shows schoolchildren who cycle are healthier and happier than those who don’t – it makes sense for schools to promote cycling, not ban it.”
Sam’s story began late last year when he wanted to ride two miles to school but was told that the road outside St Paul’s wasn’t safe. He and his family persuaded the council to bring forward a planned re-design of the road layout. They also arranged for a risk assessment, which found that the street around the school was safe for children to cycle in.
Yet the then-headteacher, who has since left, continued to insist cycling was too dangerous and that she could not allow Sam to bring his bike to school. Furthermore, the council offered to provide cycle parking, which the school did not take up.
Sam said: “The school said I needed to do cycle training, which I’ve done. Then they said the road layout was dangerous, so we got the council to change it, but they still said it was unsafe. I just want is to ride my bike to school. It’s good for the planet, and it’s good fun.”
Sam and his family enlisted the help of the CTC which asked to meet with the headteacher and board of governors to explain the risks and benefits of cycling. Recently the new headteacher finally offered to meet the CTC at the beginning of next term – when Sam will have moved on to secondary school.
Road.cc attempted to contact the headteacher at St Paul’s but at the time of posting we are still awaiting a response from her.