Bike to school - why every child should do it!
27 September 2021
Bike to school bike preparation
Taking advantage of the weather we hope many children will be opting to ride a bike to and from school this week for ‘Bike to School Week’.
Starting 27 September to 1 October 2021, Bike to School Week organised by Sustrans, and supported by the Bikeability Trust, is a week-long event across the UK to celebrate cycling to school and the huge health benefits it brings.
MAJOR HEALTH BENEFITS
Not only will it give children a great active start to the day, helping with their physical and mental wellbeing by improving sleep, releasing feel-good hormones, increasing energy levels and reducing anxiety and stress, but it will also help reduce congestion and is good for the environment too. Transport is now the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, totalling a whopping 28% of all UK emissions.
And, that’s not all, teachers have found that those pupils who have had an active journey to school are more likely to have increased academic performance, as they are more relaxed, alert and ready to start the day, than those who travel by car - that’s a lot of wins!
The average distance to school from home is just over 1 mile, so a short 10-minute cycle will get your child’s heart rate up and count towards the nationally recommended activity levels of 60-minutes per day for 5 to 18-year-olds - so why not ditch the car for a healthier, less congested journey, especially this ‘Bike to School Week’.
Sebastian cycles to school every day, so we asked his dad, our very own Ben Tiley, International Growth Executive at Frog Bikes, to share his tips for the school run by bike.
“We are quite fortunate where we live and where Sebastian's school is situated as his route to school is 2 miles of the coastal path. We make sure we get everything ready the day before so we don't need to rush in the morning such as helmets, suitable clothing, puncture repair kit, charged lights (depending on the time of year) and most importantly checking the weather forecast. Sebastian gives his bike a quick check over in the morning for punctures so we have plenty of time to repair it before we leave. I also carry tools in my saddle bag so we can do a quick repair en route if necessary.”
We do understand that on some routes parents may be concerned about the danger of traffic, but accompanying children on their journey will help them to develop road safety skills and to manage the risks.
As children get more comfortable with the journey they will begin to build the skills they need to stay safe, improve their self-esteem and develop independence, and as they grow older and more competent, they can travel the route alone.
TOP TIPS TO BIKE TO SCHOOL FROM SUSTRANS
- 🚲 Ensure all bikes are safe and roadworthy
- 🚲 Decide upon suitable cyclewear including footwear and high-visibility items
- 🚲 Plan your route beforehand
- 🚲 Take a practise trip when the roads are quieter
- 🚲 Make sure the adult rides behind the child so that they are in your line of vision at all times (If there are two adults in the group, have one at the back and one at the front)
- 🚲 Teach your child how to deal with busier roads and junctions and inform them of the Highway Code wherever possible
- 🚲 Get them to signal clearly with you
- 🚲 Get your child to make eye contact with other road users, so they know they have been seen
- 🚲 Consider cycle training if they need to help build their confidence
The children of our own DACH Marketing Executive, Nadine Pantazis, love cycling to school. Nadine has shared with us her recommendations for the best cyclewear and useful bike accessories.
“There is no such thing as bad weather when it comes to cycling, it is our preferred choice for almost any weather! We just make sure that we are prepared with suitable clothing and accessories. For the Summertime it is really important to apply sunscreen before leaving the house, to wear light clothing and to keep an extra water bottle to hand. For the colder months, we love our rain ponchos which cover our backpacks and handlebars to protect us from the worst of the weather. Ours are brightly coloured and have reflectors to help improve visibility. We also like to wear thin fleece gloves, which are perfect for keeping fingers warm, but do not cause hot and sweaty hands.”
CHECK YOUR BIKE IS ROADWORTHY
Before you head out on your bicycle, be sure to carry out an M-check on the bike to check for wear and tear and road suitability. Use the M-Check video to help >>
BIKE ACCESSORIES TO ASSIST THE JOURNEY
Whether your child is going to cycle to school for the first time, or you need to update their existing cycling equipment, there are some items you may want to consider to make the ride to school as effortless as possible, whilst ensuring their safety.
Take a look at our ‘Back to school bike preparation’ blog for a list of options to assist your child with travelling to school with ease: Back to School
LEARN TO RIDE TRAINING
There are still many children that have not been taught how to cycle a bike, but it is Bikeability’s ambition to offer every child the opportunity to learn how to ride. Bikeability is delivered by qualified instructors and equips children with the skills they need to cycle confidently, share roads safely and carry out basic maintenance on their cycles.
Bikeability courses are available throughout the year in every local authority in England. Children and adults can be trained individually or in groups, through school, clubs or private tuition.
Talk to your local authority about free ‘Bikeability’ training for all children.
Emily Cherry, Bikeability’s Executive Director, said “Bikeability is about so much more than teaching children how to cycle. Our training gives children confidence, boosts self-esteem and helps them become more independent. As well as teaching them how to cycle safely on roads, Bikeability also gives children a better understanding of the benefits of activity on their physical health and mental wellbeing. And more important of all, children have fun during Bikeability courses!”
“Bikeability starts on the playground, where our instructors teach basic cycle handling skills before children head out onto the roads for Bikeability Level 2. During this course children get to grips with simple junctions and communicating with other road users - all essential skills and experience to keep them safe on their journeys. Older children are then introduced to more complex junctions during Level 3, all under the watchful eyes of our fantastic instructors.
“I know as a parent of Year 6 and Year 8 children myself that it can be a worry to support children to cycle to school. That’s why we did Bikeability Family together before they started to cycle on their own. It gave them the skills to tackle their school journeys with confidence and gave me the reassurance I needed in their ability.
“Our latest video for schools explains how cycle training goes beyond the classroom and equips children with lifelong skills that will help them become happier and healthier. It is our ambition to give every child the opportunity to learn how to cycle and how to we’re investing in training for children who don’t usually learn how to ride a bike through our Widening Participation Fund. We would love to hear from any organisations with ideas for projects that will help children learn to ride.”
BIKE TO SCHOOL WEEK CAMPAIGN
If you haven’t already pledged to bike to school this week, there’s no time to waste. And by entering you could also be in with a chance of winning a Frog bike! Complete the pledge form today >>