Cycling to school

Helping to make cycling to school safe and enjoyable

Cycling to school has many benefits:

  • it improves children's fitness and self confidence
  • kids who ride are more alert at school
  • it is good for the environment
  • it reduces road congestion around schools and
  • it is an economical way to travel

Younger students

Cycling to school accompanied by a parent can be a great way to travel. It gives the child and parent time together and it can be a time to develop cycling and traffic skills.
Schools should be encouraged to plan 'bike trains'. A bike train is similar to 'the walking bus', but on bikes. A group of riders, under parental supervision, travelling to or from school together. It leaves at the same time each day and takes the same route, picking up pupils along the way in the morning and dropping them off at their front gate in the afternoon. Usually the group is supervised by two parents, one riding at the head, one at the rear.

A safe route needs to be chosen with agreement from the Head Teacher. Children riding within the Bike Train may benefit from road safety education and cycling proficiency training .

The value of cycle training should not only be seen as a scheme to reduce the number of young cyclists killed or injured on the roads. The training lays a foundation for future road usage as a driver. All the basic elements of the course, including the test, will prove valuable in future years when most of the children will go on to drive a motor vehicle.

North Lanarkshire Council's Road Safety team works closely with local primary schools, providing cycling proficiency training and testing to primary seven pupils. Completion of course certificates and badges are issued to all participants.
Benefits include

  • the building of friendships and the community
  • adults can cycle with the children on a rota, so that the same people don't have to be there every day,
  • the larger group of children riding is more visible to motorists and therefore safer.

Older students

As children get older their ability to deal with traffic increases. However they can be impulsive, forgetful and distracted. Peer pressure can cause children to take unnecessary risks. Adults setting a good example to younger children can help shape good road sense for later life.

Route planning

Parents can help plan routes and do a practice ride with the pupils before their first ride to school. The best routes include cycle paths, quiet streets and cycle lanes, but which of these can be used will depend on age and skills. North Lanarkshire Council's SMARTways map details the most suitable routes within North Lanarkshire.
On the other hand, your school might be able to map out a safer route to the school.

Crossing major roads should be done whenever possible, at traffic lights or where a school crossing patroller operates. Remember, people riding bikes must dismount and walk across pedestrian crossings.

Working with North Lanarkshire Council

Parents and parent groups can work with North Lanarkshire Council to ensure safe cycle routes to schools are provided or to make existing routes safer. Contact North Lanarkshire Councils Road Safety Officer for further details.

Nearer the school

There is often motor traffic congestion near schools where parents drop off or pick up their children. Schools can help pupils who cycle or walk by:

  • ensuring drop off / pick up areas are separate to entrances used by pupils who walk or cycle.
  • locating drop off / pick up areas some distance from the school entrance.
  • encouraging parents to walk or cycle with their children instead of driving.

Facilities at school

Bike racks increase the security of bikes at school. Pupils need to remove accessories such as pumps and lights from their bikes to prevent theft. Schools frequently make the bike parking area out of bounds except when pupils are arriving or leaving. Many schools are installing bike enclosures that can be locked during the day.

Cycle racks have been installed in a number of schools within North Lanarkshire. Information and advice can be provided for children taking advantage of this method of travel to school.

Please use the 'contact us' box if you have any questions. For more information, see 'related pages' and 'other useful websites'.

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