Sustainable transport charity Sustrans is calling on Government to stump up more cash to support their successful Bike It project following the release of figures showing a doubling in the number of children cycling to class every day in 2008.
The project surveyed 19,000 pupils and found out that those cycling to school had risen from four per cent to eight per cent in ‘Bike It’ schools last year.
Sustrans wants Government help to allow it to double the number of children it reaches over the next two years, aiding the fight against traffic congestion and childhood obesity.
In its annual Bike It Project Review, released today, Sustrans also confirms that pupils cycling at least once a week rose dramatically from 14 per cent to 26 per cent as a direct result of Bike It’s work to create a cycling culture in UK schools.
Paul Osborne, Sustrans Director of School Travel says, “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. Our fourth annual report shows clearly how much the 440 schools (and 89,000 children) we have worked with across England and Wales value the enthusiastic, hands-on support and popular activities delivered by our creative team of 43 dedicated Bike It Officers.
“A striking 49 per cent of pupils say they would prefer to cycle to school. Their schools not only report less traffic but also say they see many more pupils being far more physically active. With the evidence so plain, I must call on Transport, Education and Health Ministers across the nations of the UK to look carefully at what we have achieved and to give Sustrans the financial resources and support it needs to ensure every school child can take part in Bike It.”
Echoing this message, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman MP says, “The Bike It report shows that Sustrans has found a tried and tested method for getting many more children and young people to take up cycling for their school journey. The project is beginning to show the benefits of cross government working with new funding coming from the health service. I hope that ministers can look seriously at the recommendations made in the committee's School Travel report and recognise that Bike It offers a model for future work across the country to reduce school travel congestion."
Bike It is a nationwide scheme which has been operating across England for four years and expanded into Wales in 2008.
Bike It officers each support around 12 schools for a year or more to create a cycling culture within their community and provide servies such as Bike It training - cycling proficiency for the 21st century.
Bike It receives funding from Cycling England, the Department for Transport, Bike Hub the cycle industry levy, the Big Lottery Fund's Well-being Programme, the Welsh Assembly Government, Transport for London, various partner local authorities and several primary care trusts.
Further information about Bike can be found on the Sustrans website: www.sustrans.org.uk