Pupils at a Coventry school embraced this year’s Bike to School week by cycling, walking and scooting instead.
To mark the week, we worked closely with St Mary and St Benedict Primary School and Coventry City Council to organise a street closure outside the school at picking up and dropping off times. The usual range of gas-guzzling cars were replaced by a traffic-free space encouraging everyone to think again about how we travel and use public spaces.
Supported by the Bikeability Trust, Bike to School Week helped to celebrate cycling across the country. It’s never been more important to promote the benefits of active travel for pupils as recent evidence suggests that just 2% of primary school children in England cycle into school – compared to 49% in the Netherlands. One in four cars on the road during the morning rush is on the school run, despite the average primary school journey being just 1.6 miles.
Traffic created by picking up and dropping off can lead to congestion around schools and contributes to damaging levels of emissions. These emissions can lead to breathing problems, reduced lung function and damaged teeth.
However, traffic-free zones around schools at picking up and dropping off times are a great way to encourage parents and pupils to ditch the car.
There’s also evidence that attitudes are changing and a survey earlier this year showed that a majority of teachers now support a ban at the school gates during the school run.
More recently, a survey conducted by the Bikeability Trust of over 1,000 parents with children aged 12 and under showed that 63% of parents think cycling is an easy way to increase their child’s physical activity levels.
Commenting on the street closure Gavin Passmore, Partnerships Manager for Sustrans, said: “Alongside staff from St Mary and St Benedict Primary School we’ve worked closely with Coventry City Council to deliver this street closure.
“It’s one of a range of initiatives we have been undertaking with schools across the city to show the benefits of cycling to school for children in Coventry. We hope Bike to School Week helped to send a clear message to the UK government to prioritise a safer and more pleasant environment for children to walk and cycle to school.”
Councillor Pat Hetherton, Coventry City Council’s Cabinet Member for City Services, said: “During the year of Wellbeing and the European City of Sport, I hope that we can encourage as many families as possible to ditch the car.
“Across the city, cars are causing congestion or parking problems because people are just used to jumping in their vehicle. We all need to think again about how we travel and I hope this street closure has helped to encourage behavioural change.”