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New surveys highlight benefits of getting kids cycling

Sir Chris Hoy joins Evans Cycles in leading Go Ride at Herne Hill, Mark Beaumont helps launch Sustrans Big Pedal

Two new surveys published today highlight the gulf between the number of today’s children allowed to cycle without adult supervision, as well as the role that schoolkids believe cycling can play in reducing pollution around their place of study.

The first survey, commissioned by Evans Cycles and conducted by YouGov, found that one in five children in Britain (19 per cent) are unable to ride a bike according to their parents, and that one in three (32 per cent) of adults would not let their offspring ride a bike without adult supervision.

The reluctance on the part of adults to let their children ride a bike unsupervised contrasts sharply with respondents’ own experience when they were younger, with 84 per cent saying that they were allowed to go out cycling on their own when they were aged 10-15 years.

That’s despite their acknowledging that the most important benefits of cycling are what Evans Cycles refers to as “the four Fs” – fresh air, fun, freedom and fitness.

With HOY Bicycles latest range of children’s bikes launched today, the findings are published after Sir Chris Hoy led a British Cycling HSBC Go-Ride session at Herne Hill Velodrome with the retailer last Friday to highlight the benefits of cycling to kids.  

Evans Cycles, which has partnered with Hoy to develop his children’s bike range, has supported Go Ride since 2015, including donating 1,500 bikes to the initiative – many from the HOY brand.

The retailer’s head of marketing, Claire Neillands, commented: “We are proud to be a partner of British Cycling’s HSBC Go-Ride programme, it’s a fantastic and important programme that is making cycling more accessible for children.

“With child obesity on the rise and more kids becoming hooked to screens, getting kids outside and riding has never been more relevant.

“We have worked closely with Sir Chris to develop a fantastic range of lightweight bikes for children to make riding easier. These are currently being used by British Cycling Go-Ride coaches round the country,” she added.

Six-time Olympic champion Hoy said: “It’s great to be here with St Francis Primary School. I started out racing BMX at just seven years old and never looked back, I feel so lucky to be able to be pass on my skills and hope that British Cycling’s UK HSBC Go-Ride programme can help inspire young people across the country to take to the saddle.

“It’s great to see that the range of HOY bikes that I developed alongside Evans Cycles are being used by HSBC UK Go-Ride coaches across the country,” he continued.

“Riding on a heavy bike as a child can be really tough. HOY bikes have been designed to be both lightweight, comfortable and made with child-friendly components, making the experience of riding a bike as easy as possible for a child.”

Mark Beaumont Sustrans Big Pedal 2018 (copyright Andrew Lyons Photography).jpg

Mark Beaumont Sustrans Big Pedal 2018 (copyright Andrew Lyons Photography)

This morning, another well-known Scottish cyclist, world-record holder Mark Beaumont, launched the 2018 Sustrans Big Pedal, which likewise aims to get children cycling.

The adventurer – who last year rode around the world in less than 80 days for a new Guinness World Record – was at Torkington Primary School in Stockport, Cheshire today to launch this year’s Sustrans Big Pedal.

He was joined by more than 240 pupils on bikes and scooters, called for air quality near schools to be improved after a separate YouGov survey, conducted on behalf of Sustrans, found that more than two-fifths (43 per cent) of the 1,000 children aged 6-15 polled were concerned about levels of pollution near their schools.

Beaumont said: “We need to encourage more children and parents to walk, scoot or cycle to school by shouting about the benefits of travelling actively for shorter journeys.

“Fewer cars around school gates will play a significant role in reducing congestion and improving the quality of the air we breathe.”

Xavier Brice, CEO of Sustrans, appealed to the government to do more to improve the quality of air, especially near schools.

“We’re in the midst of an air quality crisis,” he said. “This survey demonstrates for the first time that children are aware and concerned about poor air quality.

“We wanted to hear their views on the matter, as they are some of the most susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution, which can lead to poor lung and brain development and asthma if exposed for long periods of time at a young age.”

He emphasised that one of the easiest ways that could be done is by reducing the number of cars on the school run and encourage children to walk, cycle or scoot instead.

“The UK Government needs to show leadership by helping local authorities fund and deliver better cycling and walking infrastructure so that every child is able to travel on foot or by bike to school in safety and with confidence,” he added.

“Failure to act now on high levels of air pollution has the potential to have a detrimental impact on children’s health.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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don simon fbpe | 5 years ago

You only need to be on the roads to see how much unecessary traffic is out there on the school run. There would be no need to invest in a cycling infrastructure on days where the school run traffic isn't there. It's a huge irony.

hawkinspeter | 5 years ago

@PilotPete - it's almost ridiculous how cost effective it is to improve cycle infrastructure. The return on investment makes it a no-brainer and yet both Conservatives and Labour don't seem to care or understand this.

Pilot Pete | 5 years ago

My wife (Deputy Mayor in our town) and I have been campaigning locally to improve cycling infrastructure to encourage the uptake of cycling. With 4500 school kids in our town, if we can get just 100 of them cycling to school rather than being driven that would save up to 52,000 car journeys in our town per year! Here is the sum to demonstrate it;

If each child was individually driven to and from school that is 4 car journeys a day.

5 school days per week is 5x4 car journeys a week = 20.

School year roughly 26 weeks of the year, so that’s 26x20=520 journeys a year. 

520 journeys per child x 100 kids = 52,000 car journeys a year. Unbelievable. And that’s just if we can get 100 kids out of 4500 cycling to school in our town.

The leader of our county council neatly fell off her chair when we presented this statistic as part of our campaign to improve the uptake of cycling (and walking). You could see her trying to scale this up in her head across all the towns in the county and even getting more than 100 school kids per town to cycle.

Councils have green targets, emmissions targets and health and well-being targets to meet. This initiative hands the lot of them to the council in one simple scheme. They are now backing our idea to get an orbital segregated cycle route around the town with ‘spokes’ into the residential estates and to the schools. Cycling UK want to use us as a blueprint for towns countrywide and the Canals and Rivers Trust are also looking into improving and upgrading the towpaths locally to be part of the scheme. Exciting indeed, but one hell of a slog. Funding application has gone in to get a feasibility study done...

The best way to achieve this is to show the council the ‘win,win’ and also demonstrate the funding options that are available which means they don’t have to find all the cash from council tax payers. Once they buy in they start to show you how you can achieve it rather than give you the usual brush off that most councils have done with regards cycling infrastructure improvements over the years...


BehindTheBikesheds | 5 years ago

AAAAAAAGGGGHHHHH. kids with fucking helmets, that's right indoctrinate them at a young age, this is such fucked up thinking and totally bogus. 

hawkinspeter | 5 years ago

I wish more of the parents would appreciate that they can make a difference to the air quality around schools by not driving right up to the schools. The kids, quite sensibly, don't want to be breathing in car fumes.

don simon fbpe replied to hawkinspeter | 5 years ago

hawkinspeter wrote:

I wish more of the parents would appreciate that they can make a difference to the air quality around schools by not driving right up to the schools. The kids, quite sensibly, don't want to be breathing in car fumes.

The madness being that there are some regs that apply to some schools regarding indoor air quality, yet they do fuck all to address the external air quality in the local vicinity. As pointed out to me recently, quite a bit of money is spent on the indoor air quality, then we send the poor little sods out to play in the yard which is often positioned between the buildings and the road.

It's probably better for their health to stay inside nowadays.


maviczap | 5 years ago

A great initiative to get kids riding bikes to school, but I had to laugh when I recall the schools banning kids from riding to school. I wonder if any school who'd banned cycling to school had subscribed to this initiative?

I also had to laugh about the BBC giving it airtime on Breakfast this morning, given the lack of positivity towards cycling by the Beeb



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