Transport minister visits Bike IT pilot scheme

Bike IT! is a national pilot cycling scheme which aims to encourage schoolchildren to take to two wheels. The scheme is co-funded by the Department for Transport and the British bicycle industry via the Bike Hub levy. Four of the pilot schools are in York, and transport minister Tony McNulty paid a visit to Our Lady’s Primary School in Acomb, close to York city centre.
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Bike IT! is the name for the 'schools and skills' project, part paid by the cycle industry's Bike Hub scheme. Through a wide range of events and activities schoolchildren will be encouraged to take to their wheels. They will receive professional, accredited on-and-off road cycle training to equip them to cycle to school. The scheme also aims to tackle practical issues such as secure cycle storage, cycle paths and traffic calming measures close to schools.

McNulty, said: “A third of children say they’d prefer to cycle to school, and this project is an excellent practical example of how that willingness can be developed. Given that the school-run accounts for a fifth of rush hour traffic, even a modest increase in the number of children cycling to school would have a big impact on congestion – now and in the future.

"Children who have experienced the freedom and independence of cycling are less likely to become inactive, car-dependent adults. And cycling is not only excellent aerobic exercise, it has also been shown to improve concentration levels and academic performance too.”

Vicki Hill, Sustrans’ Bike IT! co-ordinator for York, said:

“This new project is very exciting. Children love to cycle and our aim is to harness that enthusiasm and develop it so that children can become safe and responsible cyclists at an early age. Children who have been taught to cycle safely have a much better developed road sense."

Hill also heaped praise on the Bike Hub levy. She told BikeBiz,com: "Can you please stress how thankful we are to bicycle companies and bike shops? Without their support this important scheme wouldn't be here today."

Nationally, forty schools are taking part in the Bike IT! pilot. Once proven, the scheme could be rolled out to all schools.

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