Data from the Bike It Plus programme, run by Sustrans and Transport for London, suggests that levels of cycling to school could have doubled in just one year.
Surveying 126 primary and secondary schools in which the programme has been introduced in the past 12 months, data reveals that the number of children cycling regularly to school doubled from 6 per cent (1,883) to 12.5 per cent (4,097). It also revealed that 41 per cent (12,270) of pupils surveyed would prefer to cycle to school than any other mode of transport.
Research commissioned by Sustrans earlier this year revealed that nearly half (49 per cent) of parents in London say that their child does as little as 40 minutes or less exercise in a typical weekday, even though the average distance to primary school is just 1.6 miles – a distance which could be cycled in 20 minutes.
German Dector-Vega, Director of Sustrans London, said: “These results show that it is possible to tackle the epidemic of physical inactivity head-on with something as simple as cycling to school.
“Sustrans’ work in schools is an effective way to help children get an hour of exercise a day without putting extra strain on parents or teachers, instilling a sense of fun and a love for physical activity which will stay with children for the rest of their lives.”
Martin Fry, a teacher at East Barnet Secondary, said: “Sustrans’ Bike It Plus programme has made a huge difference at East Barnet Secondary. We now have over 20 children cycling in regularly.
“Creating a cycling culture is all about creating peer role models for cycling and providing exciting opportunities to reward and inspire the students, and the Bike It Plus program is an excellent example of how to do that.”
To celebrate the success of the project, Sustrans is hosting the Bike It Plus Festival at the Lee Valley VeloPark, on Tuesday 14th July. At the festival 200 students from 12 London schools will try out Mountain Biking, BMX and track cycling as well as taking part in a workshop with BMX champions Keelan Phillips and Matti Hemmings and compete in Rollapaluza’s high octane static cycle challenge.