42 schools across Wales have been working with Sustrans Cymru this year, with some impressive results in increasing the number of cycling trips.
The Bike It programme, supported by the Welsh Government, saw 27 per cent of pupils arrive by bike once a week in the schools running Bike It. That figure was up from just nine per cent at the start of the school year. These journeys replaced, says Sustrans, trips that were previously made by car. The number of children saying they get a lift at least once a week fell from 63 to 53 per cent.
Bike It was helped into existence by the bicycle industry via the Bike Hub levy fund. Started with just a handful of Bike It officers in England and Wales, the Bike It scheme – which Bike Hub still contributes to – now has more than 80 officers.
Through Bike It, Sustrans works with schools – staff, pupils and parents alike – to encourage more cycling to school through activities such as bike maintenance, route planning, cycle skills and the installation of facilities like bike racks in partnership with the local authority.
“Helping our children get to school actively will help them lead healthier, independent lives and evidence shows they will work better in the classroom, too," said Sustrans Cymru director Lee Waters.
“The school run causes congestion and pollution in towns across Wales. This project shows that by working with pupils and teachers we can create an infectious cycling culture in schools.
“With the Active Travel (Wales) Bill in the pipeline it’s vital that more schoolchildren across Wales get the opportunity to engage in projects such as Bike It, which will add to the numbers using new routes to school.”
Carl Sargeant, the Minister with responsibility for Transport added: "The Welsh Government wants everybody to make healthier, sustainable and cheaper journeys whenever possible and schemes such as this are an excellent way of introducing children to these ideas at a young age.
"We are committed to making walking and cycling the most natural and normal way of making short journeys in Wales and this project is a key part of creating that culture."