Cycling kids call for safer streets

Government urged to take action to tackle worries that have led a third of children to be driven to school
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Over 2,500 children have written to the Prime Minister, pressing the Government to make it easier for them to cycle or walk to school safely.

The topic has been the subject of headlines this week after one south London couple were criticised for allowing their children to cycle to school without supervision – criticism that provoked debate on the topic.

According to a recent national survey a significant 50 per cent of UK children want to cycle to school, though only two per cent do. The same survey revealed that a third of children are driven to school – often for journeys of less than one mile.

The letters were sent to Downing Street as a result of a Sustrans competition where children were asked to write a letter to the new PM, David Cameron, on ways the Government could improve their journey to school.

Eleven year old Joshua Newby wrote the winning letter. Sustrans has written to the Government and is waiting for an opportunity to present the letters and their ideas.

Paul Osborne, Sustrans Director of School Travel, commented: “There are many factors that are currently limiting children from cycling to school. Limitations from schools – much like the Schonrock children are experiencing in London – are quite common, as are stories of parents restricting their children due to safety fears.

“Sustrans’ experience of doubling cycling in the schools that we work with shows that it is possible to encourage children to become more active, confident and independent. We should listen to what children and their parents say but we must address their principal concern about road safety; by reducing traffic speeds; teaching every child road safety in school; and improving driving behaviour near children.”

Television psychologist Emma Kenny said: “Allowing children independence, like cycling to school, will increase their resilience. Increased resilience results in children being happier, more active and alert.

”When your children go to school, you need to think of them as an individual person and not an extension of yourself – listen to them and see exactly how they want to travel to school and try to support that.” 

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