With the launch of its annual Bike It Project Review, Sustrans is highlighting how cycling to school can deliver better school transport in the face of £311m of recent local education budget cuts.
The review shows that levels of cycling in Sustrans Bike It schools has doubled; 26 per cent of children cycle to school at least once a week compared to 13 per cent before the project started, whilst the number of children cycling every day has increased to 10 per cent, compared to 3 per cent before the project began.
The number of children being driven to school has also dropped – 22 per cent of children told us that they come to school by car every day, compared to 29 per cent before Sustrans began working at the school.
Paul Osborne, Sustrans Director of School Travel said: “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. Sustrans now works with over 800 schools and reaches approximately 150,000 children.
“These latest figures come at a time of major cuts in local authority funding for school transport. As pupils’ journeys become longer, cycling projects such as Bike It play an important role in making a wider choice of schools accessible to their students.
“We know that children who cycle to school are much more likely to be physically active than their peers – reducing the chance of children becoming obese and developing diabetes. Bike It also promotes road safety and cuts the number of cars on the road.”
The Bike It project is a nationwide scheme, developed and run by sustainable transport charity Sustrans. It has been operating across England for five years and expanded into Wales and Northern Ireland in 2008.
Sustrans works closely with schools, teachers, parents, children and local authority staff, helping to organise cycle training, deliver new bike sheds, contribute to classroom work and provide information about safe routes to schools to help children overcome the barriers which are preventing them from cycling to school.
Bike It receives funding from Cycling England, the Department for Transport, Bike Hub industry levy, the Big Lottery Fund's Well-being Programme, the Welsh Assembly Government, Transport for London and various partner local authorities and primary care trusts.
Bike It started with four officers, paid for by the Bike Hub levy. There are now 54 officers.