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Cycling and walking to school

The school run - a perfect way to fit cycling into your day, or try walking or scooting too!

Cycling to school

The biggest concern of adults when it comes to children walking and cycling to school is traffic danger.

Cycling to school helps young people to develop road safety skills and learn how to manage risk gradually. As children gain the skills they need to stay safe, they can develop independence, discovering a way of getting about themselves.

We offer cycle training through bikeability courses to help children feel more confident.

Most Dorset schools have cycle parking, many with covered cycle shelters, perfect for locking up your bike or scooter.

When cycling to school make sure you can all be seen. Wear fluorescent, high visibility clothing during the day and reflective material when it is dark. It is important that other path and road users can see you.

If using a shared path for cyclists and pedestrians make sure you slow down, ring your bell and say thanks when passing!

Sustrans 'Bike It' project

'Bike It' is a project run nationally by UK charity Sustrans. Sustrans schools officer, Jonathan Dixon, has been working with teachers, pupils and parents in over a dozen schools in Dorset to encourage children to get to school under their own steam.

'Bike It' is a long term project, designed to create a lasting pro-cycling culture in school. 'Bike It' helps to tackle the common barriers to cycling, working with schools to organise events, competitions, Bikeability cycle training, classroom sessions and more, all with the aim to increase the number of children who regularly cycle to school

View the Bike It newsletter (pdf, 1Mb) (opens in a new window) for the latest news, tips and competitions.

Sustrans 'Bike It' in Dorset is funded by NHS Dorset and Dorset County Council. For more information, contact Jonathan Dixon.

Walking to school

Walking is a great way for younger children to learn and explore the area they live in and gives time in the day to chat to parents. For older children it's a chance to catch up with friends and have a sense of independence.

By 2050 it is predicted that 70 per cent of girls and 55 per cent of boys will be overweight, but a short walk each day is easy, free and good for your health.

When walking to school make sure you can all be seen. Wear fluorescent, high visibility clothing during the day and reflective material when it is dark. It is important that other path and road users can see you.

If using a shared path for cyclists and pedestrians watch out for people on bikes. Always walk to one side and say thanks if a cyclist moves for you.

Top tips to get your child walking or cycling to school

  • Plan your route together in advance, finding quieter roads and cycle paths where possible
  • Practise the journey at the weekend when the roads are likely to be quieter
  • Accompany your child for a few days. As they gain confidence, gradually reduce how far you go
  • Encourage them to find a friend to walk or cycle with them

Did you know

  • Children who walk to school are healthier, fitter, and more independent and have a greater understanding of road safety skills and arrive at school more relaxed and ready to learn

  • Walking, cycling or using the bus reduces congestion on the roads and helps to reduce CO2 emissions

  • One in five of the cars in the morning rush hour is on the school run

  • Consider the cost of driving your child to school. Current figures put the average cost of the school run for a year at over £400 (based on approved mileage rates from the Inland Revenue)

  • Where walking, cycling or public transport are not feasible, car sharing may be an option. This can save time and money and helps to cut traffic congestion and air pollution as well as being sociable for children

Bike buying guide

Buying a new bike for a child can be a daunting experience. Check out our children's bike buying guide (pdf, 178kb) (opens in a new window) and tips.

  • Weight is the most important thing. Can you lift it? More importantly, can your child lift it?
  • Keep it simple. Just a single-speed for under 5s and rear gears only for older children
  • Quality pays! More fun, less fixing, better bits, sell it for more when you are done with it
  • Buy from a good local bike shop and look for brands that also make good adult bikes - avoid toy branded bikes
  • Try before you buy if at all possible

Travel plans

Schools have travel plans that they have put together to encourage parents, pupils and staff to find alternative ways of travelling to and from school. Contact your school for more information about what they are doing to help.

Sustrans Bike It

Bike It officers from Sustrans (opens in a new window) work with schools - encouraging and helping more children to cycle to school, by teaching them the skills they need to cycle safely and responsibly.

Your local schools - Spring term 2014

  • 18 schools took part in the two week 'Big Pedal' event

  • 5000 journeys to school by bike

  • 300 new cycle parking spaces

  • 400 new scooter parking spaces

Sustrans and Dorset County Council have jointly provided funding that will ensure that 16 schools in Dorset will receive new cycle and scooter parking facilities. We hope they will get used lots this summer.

Public transport

For details of public bus routes and train travel, see the Travel Dorset pages.

  • School travel plans

    School travel plans help encourage more pupils, parents, and staff to walk, cycle and use shared transport on their journeys to and from school and improve safety and reduce traffic around schools especially during the school run.

  • School Travel Health Check (STHC)

    All schools (excluding independent schools) annually receive a School Travel Health Check (STHC), setting out priorities, outcomes and milestones to improve active and sustainable travel to school. Visit their website.

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