Fewer children are riding to school, says Bikeability

Bike ownership is also down, according to the official national scheme teaching children to cycle

Clock16:00, Sunday 4th February 2024

© GCN

Fewer children are cycling to school and bike ownership is down

Bikeability has told The Sunday Times that fewer children are riding bikes and bicycle ownership among children is declining.

Bikeability is a national program that provides cycling safety lessons to children in schools. The program is set to teach 500,000 children this year, thereby delivering on a 2019 government pledge that every child who wanted to access the scheme would be able to.

However, Emily Cherry, the chief executive of Bikeability, says that even though more children are following the scheme than ever, there has been no improvement in the amount of children cycling to school.

Read more: 3,000 bikes and counting: The one-man mission to get kids on bikes for free

Cherry told The Sunday Times, "We have record numbers of children coming through the programme, [but] that’s not converting to children and families regularly cycling"

Cherry says that this is due to a lack of road safety and bicycle infrastructure.

"Parents are still too worried about road safety and traffic danger," she said.

"There are not enough safe routes to schools; we’ve got quite hostile attitudes between drivers and cyclists on the roads; and we don’t have enough safe, segregated cycling infrastructure, which is what parents really want for their children to keep them safe."

Read more: Jeremy Vine interview: I just couldn’t accept that I had to risk my life to get to work

The actual figures for how many children cycle to school are unknown; the last large-scale survey on the topic was back in 2021. That 2021 survey, performed by YouGov and Sustrans, revealed that just 2% of children aged 6–15 cycle to school, but 14% would like to. Additionally, the survey revealed that 57% of children said there were too many cars around their school, and 49% of children were worried about air pollution near their school.

Between air pollution, congestion and ever-bigger vehicles, there are plenty of reasons why parents would be wary about sending their children off to school on two wheels. The observations of Cherry from Bikeability show that whilst it is a positive step, introducing widespread cycling proficiency is only effective if the roads are safe for young cyclists to navigate.

Related Content

Link to How are pro cyclists getting more powerful than ever? The GCN Show
YouTube video B_QfOs8iU7g

How are pro cyclists getting more powerful than ever? The GCN Show

To help answer that question and more GCN’s resident cycling statistician Cillian Kelly joins Si Richardson for this week’s GCN Show

Clock
Link to Unsurprising but significant: Data shows bike lanes get people cycling and improve perceptions of public spaces
A bike lane in London

Unsurprising but significant: Data shows bike lanes get people cycling and improve perceptions of public spaces

The findings from a European Cyclists Federation survey may seem intuitive but the hard data will give advocates a platform to push for cycling infrastructure

Clock
Link to Sir Chris Hoy reveals cancer diagnosis
Sir Chris Hoy at the London Olympics in 2012

Sir Chris Hoy reveals cancer diagnosis

Six-time Olympic champion says he is 'optimistic, positive and surrounded by love' after announcing that he was diagnosed in 2023

Clock
Link to Ride an e-bike for £1 day? Dockless cycle hire meets the Cycle to Work scheme
Forest e-bikes are available across London

Ride an e-bike for £1 day? Dockless cycle hire meets the Cycle to Work scheme

Scheme offers pre-tax subscription to Forest's e-bike service, giving Londoners 60 minutes of cycling a day without the hassle of bike ownership

Clock
Subscribe to the GCN Newsletter

Get the latest, most entertaining and best informed news, reviews, challenges, insights, analysis, competitions and offers - straight to your inbox