Back to school: Cycle the new school run

There will be around 600,000 new primary school kids this September. Have you sold a bike to any of them?
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Shops have been irritating school pupils for years by running 'back to school' promotions as soon as it hits August, but have bike shops been missing a trick by not doing the same?

A whopping 600,000 children will be starting new primary schools this September and national estimates suggest that 42 per cent will be driven to school, despite the average distance from home to school being just 1.8 miles. By our maths, then, there will be 348,000 walking or cycling, which sounds like a lot of new bikes.

In September, charity Sustrans will be encouraging parents to consider walking or cycling to their child’s new school, with advice on road awareness and cycle safety. Sustrans works with over 2,500 schools to help teachers encourage their pupils to walk, cycle and scoot the school run.

Sustrans has put together some guidelines for improving a child's road safety awareness:

  • set an example: stop, look and listen, don't take risks and avoid using your mobile phone when crossing the road;
  • bend down to your child’s eye level to get an idea of what they can and can't see;
  • talk about the traffic you see on your way and the best places to cross, and ask questions about the speed and size of different vehicles;
  • in quiet areas, gradually allow your children to practice making decisions about where and when to cross roads;
  • for more information and advice about road safety, visit The Department for Transport's Think! Education site.

If the new school is easy to cycle to, Sustrans suggests that before trying the journey, parents should teach their children to follow these key rules:

  • signal clearly at all times;
  • ride in a position where you can see and be seen;
  • make eye contact with other road users, especially at junctions, then you know they've seen you;
  • don't jump red lights or cycle on the pavement unless it's a designated cycle path;
  • when riding at night always use a working white front light and red back light, plus a red rear reflector - it's the law!

Sustrans’ Campaign for Safer Streets is calling on government to make dedicated funding available, commit to lower traffic speeds, and transform local walking and cycling routes, to give every child a safe school run.

www.sustrans.org.uk/saferstreets

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