Children at a school in Reading are to be given bicycles in a bid to curb disruption to lessons through lateness – and they will be allowed to keep them should they hit attendance targets during the academic year.
The initiative, operated by Reading Borough Council in partnership with Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP), goes by the name Ride On Time and is being piloted by Katesgrove Primary School.
If the scheme, targeted at Year 5 and 6 students, proves successful it will be rolled out to other schools in the area, with five or six children selected at each to take part.
The bicycles will be ones that have been abandoned local railway stations, and participating schoolchildren will be given a lock, helmet and hi-visibility vest. The bikes will also be security marked.
They will be given Bikeability training by Avanti Cycling, which has the contract for the Reading area, and will also receive advice about railway safety, such as at level crossings.
Reading Borough Council’s lead member for education, councillor Tony Jones, said: "There can be a variety of different reasons why children are late for school but the result is they miss the start of lessons and disrupt classes.
"Ride on Time is an imaginative way of tackling attendance problems at schools while also helping children to get daily exercise and reduce the number of parents dropping off children in their cars.
"I'd like to thank all the partner organisations which are supporting this excellent project and to wish it every success."
Inspector Paul Martin of British Transport Police commented: "We are delighted to be involved with this initiative, which will hopefully give local children new skills, improve their attendance and give them a better feeling of self-worth, while also teaching them important lessons in railway safety.
"It is also satisfying to know that discarded bikes will get a new lease of life under this project and we look forward to supporting the scheme throughout the school year," he added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.