Even if you don’t have a business that relies on new customers getting on bicycles, statistics showing that fewer children are walking and cycling to school than ever before should be ringing a few alarm bells.
The new school year starts this week and to mark the occasion Sustrans has revealed fresh research showing that on average primary school children who are driven to school spend 45% longer in the car than their parents’ generation.
Children in England now spend 26 hours a year being driven to school compared to 18 hours just 20 years ago. Because children are going to schools further away from their homes, you might wonder? Unlikely when the average primary school journey is 1.6 miles.
It’s not just time spent in the car that is grown – the number of primary school children being driven to school has increased from 40% in 1995/97 to 46% now.
All this comes against yet more disturbing statistics: 42% of children are getting less than half the recommended hour of physical activity a day. Let’s wish the NHS good luck, because it’s going to need it over the coming decades. Luck and a lot of money.
If only there was some way to remedy this alarming situation?
Sarcasm aside, it is road safety concerns that mean many families feel unsafe walking and cycling to school. According to Sustrans, a recent poll revealed that parents would be more likely to allow their children to walk and cycle to school if there were more dedicated walking and cycling routes and safer crossings.
Sustrans chief exec Malcolm Shepherd said: “It’s a sad reflection on our times that children are increasingly cooped up in a car, rather than getting outside and walking, cycling or scooting to school.
“While it is not possible for everyone to walk or cycle to school many families would prefer to not take the car but feel threatened by speeding traffic and dangerous roads. It’s wrong that so many children are being denied a safe and healthy journey to school, especially when physical inactivity is placing such an incredible burden on our health system.
“We urgently need the government to make dedicated funding available, commit to lower traffic speeds, and transform local walking and cycling routes.”