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How to encourage cycling at schools with anti-cycling policies

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If your child's school is trying to ban or discourage cycling, this guide is designed to help overcome the most common barriers. It's mainly for parents, but we hope it'll also be useful for teachers, heads, governors, local authorities, after-school programmes and, of course, children.
Don't stop kids from cycling to school
Don't stop kids from cycling to school

5) How to convince your child’s school to allow cycling: what are the objections?

  • Find solutions to the objections. Whether or not you think the head teacher’s concerns make sense, they are real to him or her. You need to provide solutions. Some objections we have heard include:
    - Children lack safe cycling skills – suggest that all pupils at the school are offered cycle training. You can learn more from the cycle training pages on CTC’s website or from the Bikeability site: http://www.ctc.org.uk/cycletraining / http://www.bikeability.org.uk
    Parents can also teach children safe cycling skills by, for example, accompanying children on their trip to school. For children under the age of 10, or who have not had Bikeability level 2 (or in cases where schools are surrounded by very busy roads, level 3), cycling with them is a reassuring thing to do anyway.
    - No cycle parking/not enough space for cycle parking – ask the council to install parking. Many local authorities have budgets for this and appreciate suggestions from the general public. Alternatively, cycle parking is surprisingly inexpensive and you can buy it direct from many manufacturers. For information on cycle parking best practice, see: www.camcycle.org.uk/resources/cycleparking/guide
    - The school is concerned about its liability – schools simply are not liable for a child travelling independently to school or for a child’s property left on school grounds. See (2) above.
    - The roads surrounding the school are too dangerous – this can be one of the most difficult objections to overcome. Due to years of car-oriented planning, unpleasant and high-speed roads are difficult to avoid in many areas of the UK. Your council might be able to help you decide the best approach to take by carrying out a risk assessment of the area for you. At least you’ll then have an official perspective on what the hazards may or may not be and some ideas on what could be done about them – e.g. introducing a new crossing point or 20 mph limits.

    Remember also to think about measures that would help discourage people from driving their children to school, e.g. no-stopping zones around schools and reducing nearby car parking.

    Keep pushing the idea that more children cycling to school will mean fewer people driving, and that will make the roads safer, as well as reducing school run congestion on roads in the school’s neighbourhood.

    Stress that you want the whole community to benefit, not just you and the school!

    Sustrans’s Safe Routes to Schools programme offers free information and advice to parents, pupils, schools and local authorities: www.sustrans.org.uk/what-we-do/safe-routes-to-schools.

  • The children will run over other children and/or neighbours and there will be chaos. This is very unlikely to happen. In any case cycles do far less damage than cars, so third parties are much more likely to benefit than otherwise.You can try recommending that all children at the school are offered cycle training, but be wary of moves to make it a compulsory prerequisite to cycling. Primary schools often only arrange for training for pupils at the end of their last year, which means that other pupils cannot cycle unless their parents arrange for them to receive cycle training outside of school. If this issue remains a sticking point, you might want to suggest that children who cycle must be registered with the school. This is not an ideal solution, however, as it gives the impression that cycling is somehow not an everyday activity and it needs to be regulated.

  • The children don’t want to cycle to school. Around half of all children in the UK want to cycle to school. This is a figure that comes up over and over again in school travel surveys. In order to submit a School Travel Plan, each school has to measure how children currently travel to school, and how they wish they did travel. If your child’s school has not already collected this information, ask them to do so.

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