Cycling to school plugged in TES

The industry-funded Bike It scheme is lauded in a three-page feature in the magazine of the Times Educational Supplement, the weekly must-read for teachers. "Do you want your pupils to arrive in school fresh, fired-up and fit as fleas? Then get them on their bikes," states TES.
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The piece is overwhelmingly positive about the health, social and developmental benefits of cycling to school.

George Watson, the headmaster of Ipswich's Kesgrave high school, poster child for getting kids cycling, is proud of the school's bike friendliness. Fifteen years ago, only 70 of the 700 pupils cycled to school. The school is now much bigger and was deliberately fed with cycle paths. The latest school travel survey found that out of 1520 pupils, 755 cycle to school, 330 walk, 220 arrive by bus and only 215 arrive by car.

Kesgrave high school does not therefore generate a massive amount of school run congestion. Not car congestion, anyway. There's a Beijing-style bike crush at the end of the school day: it can take 20 minutes for the procession of cyclists to pass the school gate.

As well as a reduction in traffic congestion, there are other benefits for the school.

"We have a fit population and do well in sports," said Watson.

"Looking around, you don't see many obese kids."

The school team recently came third in the national school swimming and does well in other sports too.

This can't all be down to cycling, the deputy headmaster told TES, but, said Brian Hawkins, "children who exercise regularly are more inclined to exercise – it's a virtuous circle."

Hawkins also said cycling to school had a positive effect on schoolwork:

"I don't believe a kid who gets out of bed, eats breakfast and then sits in a car will get to school feeling as fresh, healthy and ready to work as a kid who cycles to school."

The TES piece also features the industry-funded, Sustrans-managed Bike It scheme, a national pilot programme to create cycling super schools.

Vicki Hill, Bike It officer for ten schools in the York and Doncaster region, said schools which championed cycling were growing the cyclists of the future:

"[Being a Bike It school] gives out the message that 'we cycle at this school'. A lot of people say walking is just as good. But cycling is the only truly sustainable way for them to get to school, because if they are still walking when they get to 17 they will want to get a car. If we can show them they can go quite long distances on bikes and enjoy it, they are much more likely to ride a bike when they are older."

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