Sustrans says cycling to school may provides transport options for cash-strapped councils

Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, has announced that levels of cycling in schools benefiting from its Bike It initiative have doubled from 26% of pupils cycling to reach their place of study at least once a week, compared to 13% before the project began. Sustrans says that the figures provide evidence that cycling to school can help improve transport options for local authorities facing budget cuts of £311 million.

The figures have been revealed as part of Sustrans’s annual Bike It Project Review, which also shows that the proportion of schoolchildren cycling every day has more than trebled from 3% to 10%. Meanwhile, the percentage of children being driven by car every day to schools participating in the project has dropped from 29% to 22%.

Paul Osborne, Sustrans Director of School Travel, commented: “The Bike It project continues to lead the way as one of the UK’s most successful projects bringing about change in the travel behaviour of young people. Sustrans now works with over 800 schools and reaches approximately 150,000 children.”

He continued: “These latest figures come at a time of major cuts in local authority funding for school transport. As pupils’ journeys become longer, cycling projects such as Bike It play an important role in making a wider choice of schools accessible to their students.

Mr Osborne added: “We know that children who cycle to school are much more likely to be physically active than their peers – reducing the chance of children becoming obese and developing diabetes. Bike It also promotes road safety and cuts the number of cars on the road.”

The Bike It project, which is funded by bodies including Cycling England, the Department for Transport, the cycle industry’s Bike Hub levy, the Big Lottery Fund's Well-being Programme, the Welsh Assembly Government, Transport for London and other local authorities and primary care trusts, has been in operation for five years now in England and two years ago was expanded Wales and Northern Ireland in 2008.

The initiative sees Sustrans working in partnership with schools, teachers, parents and local authorities to help deliver cycle training as well as taking part in classroom work and giving information regarding safe routes to school, helping children overcome the barriers that stop them from cycling to school.

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.