Cycle to school week

Having a busy lifestyle can often mean rushing kids to school in the morning in the car before work and vice versa in the afternoon.

Cycling or walking to school has so many benefits for both your kids’ and your physical and mental wellbeing – getting in some fresh air and exercise will set your children up with a positive start to a day in the classroom, and you also won’t get stuck in drop-off gridlock at the school gates.

This week (3-7 October) is Cycle to School Week across the UK. Run by Bikeability Trust, the week aims to encourage parents and children to make a pledge for Cycle to School Week. Last year the journeys to school pledged totalled 33,314 and saved over £20,000 of fuel.

If you’d like to take part this year, they have four different pledges to choose from:

·       Cycle to school everyday

·       Swap one car journey for cycling

·       Cycle with your family

·       Discover somewhere new on a cycle ride

It gives parents a lot more options so you can still take part even if you have no choice but to drive your children to school. Make small changes like swapping one day out for a cycle or finding somewhere new to go on a family bike ride will make a big difference to reducing emissions and increasing physical activity.

Safety tips

If you decide to take part, it’s important to follow some safety tips. It’s also getting darker in the mornings and at night so there’s a few things you can do to help safeguard your children.

 

  • Wear a helmet – although it’s not a legal requirement, making sure kids where a cycle helmet is a must. Lead by example by wearing one too
  • Be seen – make sure children are visible by investing in some high-vis gear. You can get high-vis tabards for kids but also reflective strips for bike helmets and shoes can help keep them visible at dawn or dusk. Even wearing brightly coloured clothing can help
  • Stick together – sometimes children can still be wobbly when riding bikes so it’s important to ride close together and not let children go too far ahead. If there are cars overtaking, it might be best to pull into the side of the road to let them pass before continuing your journey
  • Find a safe route – this might mean going a slightly longer way round, but if it avoids busy roads then you’ll all feel safer all round. There might be a park nearby that you can ride through and then walk the busy road bits.

It can feel scary cycling on some roads nowadays, but the aim is for families to feel confident cycling together to school and out and about at weekends. It’s so easy to hop in the car for a short journey to the shops, but it’s just as easy to hop on a bike too, so before you grab the car keys, think about whether you really need to drive.

Modern life can mean we’re leading more sedentary lifestyles and cycling is a great way to get some extra exercise and fresh air. If you don’t feel as confident on roads, take a look around your local area to see if they have any special cycleways or off-road tracks where you can build your confidence cycling as a family.

If you’re not able to take part in Cycle to School Week, it’s also Walk to School Month, so you can still get some exercise, save on some fuel and help the environment.