You must have read the article about the family in south London who, shockingly, let their children cycle to school. Good on them, I say. Now Sustrans says that children should be encouraged to ride to school not prohibited, which is also something I totally agree with.
Half of all children want to cycle to school but just two per cent do. A third of children are now driven to school, many for journeys of less than one mile.
Quite a sad quote, ain’t it ?
I have often talked to children at the schools where I train Bikeability and they are simply shocked that I cycled there. And then I find out that they live pretty much down the road, no more than a mile and a half away. They know it is not that far away because it only takes 5min in a car to drive. Knowing the area they live, many children could cycle safely to school on the road. And even on the journeys where they have to cross a busy road, there are pedestrian crossings for them to use.
Just a little training is needed. E.g. walk with the child the journey a few times and talk them through the route, junctions etc, and then let them walk ahead of you a few times so that they are doing the crossings by themselves, with you supervising from a distance. I bet you that within a week little Jr. is walking to school just fine alone. With some cycle training that many schools are doing or through companies like cycletraining.co.uk your child will get to know all there is to know about cycling on the road. Then with some support from you, the parent, they will be cycling to school in no time.
The more kids that cycle to school, the fewer cars doing the rat run there will be and therefore quieter roads to cycle on. A “win win” I would say.
In the time that I have lived over here, I have only seen three families teach their young ones how to cross the roads. One of them was a German family who clearly spend time explaining how the little green man works. The most popular ways I see people train their little loved ones are either …
1/ Dragging the little loved one across a dual carriageway where there was no pedestrian crossing. Well there is, but it’s about 25m down the road. These things are magical: other road users will stop and give way for you while you are crossing. You do not have to play dodge ball with the other road users.
2/ Throw little Jr. into the Chelsea tractor and drive less than a mile to the school. I was at a junction doing some training and a lady and her daughter across the way climbed into the car and drove away only to arrive two and a half minutes later without her daughter. That distance you would be able to walk in ten minutes and it would be good for you.