Cycling to School
School mornings can be a nightmare. Spilled cereal, misplaced homework, forgotten sports gear and grumpy children can all conspire to make your morning harried and horrible. Then you pile everyone into the car, sit through gridlocked traffic, and only hope that when you let the kids out at school they are able to elude the other vehicles driven by parents just as frustrated as you. It's enough to put anyone off! But there are ways to break out of this commuting chaos. For children aged ten and above, cycling to school may be the perfect answer.
Benefits of Cycling to SchoolThe benefits of cycling to school are many. Children who cycle to school will:
- Gain independence and confidence.
- Learn road safety and proper bicycling skills.
- Sneak in exercise both before and after school.
- Get to school three times faster than if they walked.
- Be more alert during class.
- Help protect the environment from harmful pollution.
- Reduce traffic around their school.
- Enjoy an economical commute.
- Develop a healthy and committed routine.
Cycling SafetyOften, parents are reluctant to let their older children cycle to school for fear of their safety. This is a natural worry, and one that can be easily overcome. Consider:
- Checking with your child's school to see if they offer cycling safety courses.
- Asking your local authority if they have any safe cycling routes planned.
- Developing a route that does not use major roads or cross busy intersections.
- Riding your child's route with him/her to get a feel for the traffic.
- Practicing proper bicycle maintenance with your child.
- Testing your child on emergency repairs, such as patching a puncture, that may need to be carried out while you are not available to help.
Invest in Safe Cycling GearInvesting in proper safety gear is a smart idea before you let your child loose. For everyday cycling, consider purchasing:
- A bicycle built for your child's height, weight and gender.
- A helmet, and possibly elbow and knee pads for your child.
- High visibility clothing or sash for your child to wear while cycling.
- Lights for the front and back of your child's bike.
- A sturdy backpack for your child to wear, or a bike basket to deposit materials.
- Athletic or closed toed shoes to be worn while cycling.
- A strong lock for security.
Support Your SchoolMany children feel that they can't cycle to school because once they arrive they have no space to store their equipment. Consider fundraising and helping your school apply for grants in order to offer:
- A secure bike shed.
- Enough bike racks for anyone who would like to store their bicycle.
- Lockers large enough to store a helmet and other bike gear.
- Zebra crossings for the peddling pupils.
- Cycling safety and maintenance courses.