Dec 7

Cycling to School

Taken from the Blazing Saddles Column in the Tayside Courier Weekend Supplement 7.4.12

Scot Tares considers the benefits and impact of children cycling to school.

“Cars are all right on occasion, but they are not moments of grace, as bicycles are.” – Colman McCarthy

Over the last few months I have been delivering “Bike Fun” sessions to lots of schools around Tayside. It has been amazing turning up to schools and seeing so many children riding through the gates and the bike shed overflowing; this is how it should be.

Each session starts with an initial bike, helmet and clothing check and then we get down to the real business of having fun on the bikes. We start off with balance and coordination warm-up games and then progress until we have full-on racing. It’s a fantastic sight to see the children riding around at top speed, their class-mates cheering them on and everyone with big smiles on their faces.

It’s all good fun, but it has a serious point too. I’ve written before about the joy and independence to be gained as a young person first learns to ride a bike, but motivating children to ride their bikes to school benefits everyone; the children have fun and by stealth measures get fitter, while the “school run” becomes less congested.

Of course, children need to be safe when cycling to school and Bikeability, billed by Cycling Scotland as “Cycling Proficiency for the 21stCentury”, is a valuable tool that allows young people to gain the confidence and skills necessary to allow them to ride their bikes responsibly and safely. However, and this is a big one, it isn’t just up to the child to be the one to take full ownership of being safe; every one of us who uses the roads has a responsibility to be aware and responsible for our actions and let young people ride to school safely.

Back to the racing and four girls are hurtling around the make-shift course in the playground at breakneck speed. Their friends scream and shout as they push themselves on with a “race face” of determination to be first across the line. The session finishes and everyone jumps back on their bikes to ride home. As you drive past them on your way home from work, take care, that child you just passed may just be the 2020 Olympic Champion.

Scot Tares

Copyright DC Thompson 2012

Cycling to School

Route: Lots of schools around Tayside and Fife have fantastic routes for young people to cycle to school. If you are unsure, then get in touch with the school directly, or contact the local Active Schools Co-ordinator.
Get Involved: The “Bikeability” cycling proficiency scheme cannot operate without volunteers to help out. If you are interested in being part of the scheme then contact your school for details on how you can be involved, or visit: http://www.dft.gov.uk/bikeability/

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