Parents’ concern for their children’s safety is one of the major obstacles preventing the increase in numbers of kids on bikes, Cycling Scotland told BikeBiz.
The organisation is planning to combat these worries by getting kids on bikes this summer with a Cycle to School campaign in seven local authority areas in Scotland.
The six-week campaign will see the creation of ‘Cycle Friendly Zones’ around schools where drivers are asked to give children as much space as possible while they are cycling – directly tackling the concerns of worried parents. Orkney, Moray, Edinburgh, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire will benefit from the campaign.
Cycling Scotland’s Andrew Pankhurst told BikeBiz: “The main barrier to cycling to school is that parents need to feel that cycling is safe for their children. That’s why we are running this campaign to communicate with drivers, asking them to be cycle-friendly, and to give children enough cycle space.
“The campaign ads are heavily focused in the area around participating schools, so that parents can see something is being done to make cycling safer around their child’s school.”
Safety fears are not the only obstacles for growing rider numbers, with Pankhurst also identifying a lack of facilities, training and encouragement as defining factors.
He said: “Other barriers include a lack of good off-road routes – though Sustrans is addressing this with its Safer Routes to Schools initiative, and the Cycle to School campaign also incorporates a travel planning session with children to show them how to plot the quietest route from home to school.
“A lack of proper cycling facilities, training and encouragement in schools can also deter children from cycling, although Cycling Scotland’s Cycle Friendly School Award –which is given to schools that provide a high standard of bicycle parking, cycle training and generally have a good school cycling culture, has seen 44 schools now achieve a cycle-friendly status, with over 10,000 children going to a cycle-friendly school.”
The success of the campaign will be measured through Sustrans’ collection of extensive school travel data through the Hands up Survey. Providing an accurate reflection of modal share for school travel, the data is collected at local authority level and individual schools.
Retailers can play a part in helping boost numbers too, Pankhurst assured us: “The best way for retailers to show their support of the campaign is to give good advice to children and their parents on cycling when they come in store, and particularly to highlight local routes and mapping so that families can plan the quietest and safest routes for travelling to and from school.”
Cycling Scotland: 0141 229 5350