Opening the Cycle Show 2004 today, transport minister Charlotte Atkins heaped praise on the Bike Hub levy scheme which is funding the cycle-to-school scheme, Bike It.
The minister met with some of the children from around the country who are benefiting from the Bike It schools scheme.
Bike It aims to make cycling to school more attractive, safer and easier. The scheme provides co-ordination of high quality cycle training, secure bike parking and safer cycling routes to school.
Ms Atkins said:
"The government is committed to promoting cycling. But we need to persuade more children, and their parents, that they can cycle to school safely. As well as being fun, cycling improves health, reduces school-gate congestion and pollution and provides children with independence. The Bike It scheme is a step in the right direction to persuade more children to cycle more safely, more often."
The Bicycle Association and the Association of Cycle Traders scheme has so far funded four full-time Bike It co-ordinators to pilot the scheme at 40 schools in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, Leicester and Derby, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, through the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans. It is hoped that the Bike It scheme can be extended still further by utilising a network of more than 250 school travel advisors, funded by the Departments for Transport and Education, to create Bike It schools in their own areas.
Paul Osborne, Sustrans' Director of Safe Routes to Schools said:
"Through our work with schools we know that young people are enthusiastic about cycling and walking. They recognise the positive effect it has on themselves and their environment as well as giving them independence and freedom to be with their friends. The Bike It pilot scheme has been supplying resources and support for forty cycle-friendly schools, harnessing young peoples enthusiasm and giving them practical help such as cycle training and advice on safe routes to school. We are grateful for the support of the Government, and also the cycle industry which is helping us to nurture a new generation of confident, responsible and enthusiastic cyclists.