Project to get kids cycling and walking gets off to a flying start

Sustrans praises response to Free Range Kids campaign

Sustrans has hailed the huge response to the launch of its Free Range Kids campaign.

The project is aiming to get children out of cars and onto bikes or walking to improve their health, happiness and well being.

“We’ve had a huge response from the public so far,” Sustrans chief executive Malcolm Shepherd told BikeBiz. “The website has been very popular; around twenty five thousand people have asked for the activity packs to help them keep their kids free range and lots of social networking is helping spread the word. We’ve also had a great response from MPs with 97 recently signing an Early Day Motion in Parliament supporting the campaign.

“And this is just the beginning – it’s really encouraging and, we hope, will really change the reality for how children travel around everyday.”

Sustrans is looking to work closely with the trade for the Free Range Kids campaign, with pledge cards and posters that retailers can use to help capture a wider share of the potential children’s cycle market that otherwise might have been missed out on.

Shepherd explained: “The trade already supports our work with schools to get more children doing the school journey by bike and this has provided us with key evidence for why we need to invest in our children being free range. The Bike Hub sponsors our annual competition, The Big Pedal, which we will be running again next March, but we are looking to work more closely with trade on the campaign. We are creating pledge cards and posters that could be stocked in shops and by being more family and children orientated, bike shops can capture more of the children’s bike market.”

Free Range Kids is aiming to tackle ‘fear of traffic’ and how that has affected travel choices by parents for children over recent decades. The chief exec added: “Sustrans has been working with children in schools for 16 years and we know that children often do want to walk and cycle more, but there are barriers to them being able to do that. Fear of traffic is a major reason why parents don’t allow children to play outside or go to school on their own, and it is an understandable fear. Since the ‘70s the number of cars we own has more than doubled and that has had a huge impact on how our children make even the shortest of journeys. No one wants future generations of children who are inactive, cooped up and see the world through a car window.”

“That is why the campaign has two angles. Firstly helping children and parents find ways to be active and independent in how they travel around locally by discovering traffic free routes or cycle lanes, getting better cycle skills or just finding new ways to enjoy doing it together. Secondly, we want local and national government to commit to improving public space with lower traffic speeds in residential areas and with investment in better local walking and cycling networks so getting around your own streets doesn’t have to be a battle, it can be an enjoyable part of the day.”

PIC CREDIT: J Bewley/Sustrans

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