According to the media , Oliver and Gillian Schonrock, from Dulwich, south east London, let their children, aged five and eight, cycle the mile from their house to school by themselves because they say it helps to teach them independence and self-confidence. But the couple has been told by the headmaster of Alleyn’s junior school that to let their children cycle to school by themselves is irresponsible, and has warned them that unless they supervised the journey in both directions they would be referred to social services.
CTC is very disappointed to hear that Oliver and Gillian Schonrock’s decision to let their children to cycle to school on their own has been described as “irresponsible”. All children should have the right to cycle to school: it allows them to travel quickly and independently through their local areas, providing not just autonomy, but a daily sense of achievement. To describe the Schronrocks’ decision as ‘irresponsible’ sends out a message that roads are for adults only, and undermines the health benefits of cycling to children – such as greater cardiovascular fitness and reduced levels of obesity - far outweigh the risks. CTC fully supports parents who would like their children to cycle to school with a Right to Ride to School campaigning kit.
CTC believes that children are too often discouraged from cycling to school because of fears that they will not cycle safely; that surrounding motorists will drive dangerously; or that children alone in public are at risk. But these fears simply do not reflect real experience. Children can learn safe cycling through cycle training, which helps them protect themselves by teaching them good techniques for looking and anticipating the movements of motorists and other road users. The health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks, and the risk involved in cycling is similar or less than the risk involved in many other everyday activities. In addition, more children cycling to school means fewer cars on the road, making the school run safer for everyone.
Additionally, the risk presented by ‘stranger danger’ is greatly exaggerated by the media. Obesity is a far greater threat to children than abduction.