More Children Than Ever Cycling To School In Wales

A Growing Number Of Children In Wales Are Using Bicycles To Get To School

03.02.2014

Bicycles are becoming an increasingly popular mode of transport among children in Wales, new figures have revealed.

According to Sustrans Cymru, schools taking part in the Bike It initiative have seen a surge in the number of pupils travelling by bike in the last year.

Educational institutions revealed the number of pupils regularly using the car to get to school has dropped by more than 10%. Meanwhile, the number of children cycling to school at least three times a week has trebled.

Jane Lorimer, national director of Sustrans in Wales, commented: "With childhood obesity costing our NHS millions each year and congestion on the school run slowing our economic recovery, increasing levels of cycling to school benefits everyone."

Edwina Hart, the transport minister in Wales, responded to Sustrans' latest findings by stressing the importance of making sure young people have the "skills and confidence to cycle safely on our roads".

She described this as a "key element" in the Welsh Assembly Government's efforts to reduce the number of incidents on roads throughout the country.

However, the upturn could prompt the charity to renew its calls for roads to be made safer for cyclists.

The Department for Transport’s British Social Attitudes Survey 2012 found that only 43% of bicycle owners felt safe enough to use them on the UK's roads. Nearly three-quarters of those polled advocated taking steps to improve safety standards, such as imposing 20mph speed limits in residential areas.

Alan Williams, policy adviser at Sustrans, said it is clear that an "overwhelming majority" of people in the UK believe the nation's roads are "too dangerous for cycling".

He argued that if only a small proportion of bike owners who are concerned about their safety could feel differently, the country's economy would "flourish", while problems such as pollution and congestion could "ease significantly".

Mr Williams added that the government must respond to the public's concerns and make the UK's streets "safer, healthier and more enjoyable places to be".

Expert Opinion
While it is very welcome to see cycling becoming popular among children in Wales, it is vital that work to promote cycling to the public goes hand-in-hand with efforts to promote and improve road safety across the UK.

"Too many people are injured in road collisions and there remains much work to be done to provide better protection to cyclists.

"As reflected in the comments in the article, improving safety standards will lead to greater confidence and potentially encourage even more people to consider swapping four wheels for two."
Neil Whiteley, Partner