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Number of pupils cycling to school in Scotland hits a new high

Active travel to school at an all-time low however

The proportion of children cycling to school in Scotland has increased to a new high of 3.8 per cent. However, while active travel as a whole remains the most frequently reported mode of travel to school at 48.7 per cent, this represents a 0.1 per cent decline on the previous year and the lowest proportion since the Hands Up Scotland survey began in 2008.

Funded by Transport Scotland, Hands Up is a joint survey between Sustrans and all 32 Scottish local authorities. Each September, schools complete the survey in class by asking their pupils ‘How do you normally travel to school?’

The Scotsman reports that in 2018 3.8 per cent of pupils cycled, up from 3.7 per cent the year before and 2.8 per cent in 2008.

Other than that, 42.5 per cent walked; 24.8 per cent were driven in a private car or taxi; 16.2 per cent travelled by bus; 9.8 per cent travelled by “park and stride”; and 2.4 per cent took a scooter or skated.

John Lauder, national director of Sustrans Scotland, said: “It’s encouraging to see that cycling and park and stride numbers continue to increase. Research has shown that increased physical activity can help children lead happier, healthier lives, while contributing to lowering pollution around their school gates.

“We need to continue to monitor the reduction in bus use, and seek to identify ways that active travel can be a viable alternative, rather than the private car.”

Commenting on the overall decline in active travel, a Transport Scotland spokesman said: "We note the publication and remain confident that the Scottish Government’s recent investment will lead to an increase in the number of children walking or cycling to school in the coming years.

“While overall numbers have remained relatively stable, there are positive signs, including the fact that cycling rates are now at the highest level. We continue to fund local authorities directly through the Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets Grant, which this year is £8.9m.”

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