#safetoschool campaign by Sustrans – update…

This week we have walked, scooted and cycled to and from school as part of the #biketoschoolweek by Sustrans and their #Safetoschool campaign.  It has been both a fun and challenging experience.  
Sustrans firmly believe that every child has a right to either walk, scoot or cycle safely to school.  And so do I.
We took up their challenge ….
Day 1, we walked, talking about the week ahead, the routes we would take when cycling later in the week.  I realised that as we walked our pace was leisurely, we chatted, noticed the roses and flowers in the neighbourhood, stroked local cats and felt a sense of calm, on our journey, instead of panicky rush which the school run can easily descend into.
Day 2, scoot day.  Using the pavements, we take the quickest route, down the hill, and the main high street.  Building momentum, with me out of breath walking, running, behind them.  The boys are used to travelling like this, they egg each other on, creating ‘stunts’ along the way.  But always stopping at road junctions for me to catch up and assist them across the road safely.
Day 3 – 5, cycle day.  We’ve cycled to school before when the boys were at pre-school on balance bikes. Using the pavement as we went.  But now the boys are on proper Isla Bikes and are so much bigger, we felt it was just too much for the other pedestrians.  Being run over by my two!  Not good.  
So today, was the first day they have cycled on the road EVER!  Dan went with them on his bike, talking through the road, safety, what to look out for and generally encouraging them to make the right decisions whilst riding.  Sustrans kindly gave us a helmet camera to use, which the boys have taken in turns wearing.  We shall edit it this weekend and show you soon.
Thoughts …
Our journey to school is 15 minutes by foot and considerably less by bike.  Cycling through the side roads to school is a safer but a longer route, so that just means we need to be a little bit more prepared in the morning (and not to forget it’s Forest School, like I did today! – no wellies!).
Our main High Street, is busy.  Cars, delivery lorries all zooming down the road, and the school sits on this road.  For us to use the High Street as a cycling commute, then a proper cycle lane would have to be introduced, it just isn’t safe enough for young kids to do it otherwise.  Parked cars down either side, pulling out and not being cyclist aware is always a danger.
And then once at school – there isn’t (yet) a big enough space to store all of the bikes.  Perhaps if a bike lane was introduced, more kids would cycle, and then the bike area would be made bigger?  Who knows?  But that’s down to the school.
We have loved being involved with Sustrans campaign – and you can too.  Please click over to the campaign page and then click on write to your local MP.  A short form pops up asking for your name and address. Please fill it in, and a letter automatically gets sent to your MP. No need for a stamp!
The more of us who do it, will help Sustrans and help your community.  Please do it today.

  • Our Walk To School Week was a huge success. We had a special breakfast for children who’d walked to school and on Wednesday joined in with the Brake Giant Walking Bus record attempt. I did a tally chart with my classes each day and on Friday all children had walked (scootered, or biked) to school – brilliant! Now I’m off to buy myself a new bike for the summer! x

  • I have found your posts on this subject really interesting. I grew up in Bristol in the 1970s and used to walk to and from school (20 minutes away) by myself from about the age of 8. I now live in a small town and my 10 year old attends a school 2 minutes walk away but I take her and collect her because the cars are so dangerous – far too many for the road and badly parked which sometimes means walking in the road. It is a vicious circle because I am sure people collect children in cars who could walk home safely by themselves if there were less cars. I worry about the loss of independence.

  • We haven’t cycled every day this week as we live 3 miles from our school and our little one is 5 and in reception but we have cycled Monday afternoon, Tuesday both morning and afternoon and Thursday morning and afternoon. We have been doing this for the last 2 weeks and Josh absolutely loves it being able to zoom as he calls it down the hills. (He is attached to my bike at the moment on a tag along but the eventual idea is for him to cycle himself) We are going to try to keep this up and use the car less and less. It is a good way to spend time together and burn off some of the huge amount of energy we have even after a day at school. We do try and use the less busy roads but sometimes they are used as a cut through but we have found that most drivers are willing to wait behind on the twistier bits of the route.

  • Two boys on the road – wow! So grown up… I think I’m on the verge of having to manage two little cyclists and it feels slightly hairy! Coco has cycled to school since her very first day at reception – despite being in London and the school being almost a mile away we are quite lucky that we have a great route we can take which goes across a rec/park and then up a long residential road with no side road junctions so she can go on the pavement without causing anyone else any stress while I’m on the road. The fact that we have this route has allowed us to really enjoy our little ‘commute’ and reading this post makes me feel quite lucky that we have a safe cycling – it’s around the school that is a nightmare with so many more pedestrians and parents who drive running late and not really thinking about safely parking etc… that’s the most dangerous bit of the journey I think!

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