Schools play a crucial role in fostering healthy habits and eco-conscious behaviour among students in an era where environmental sustainability and physical fitness are paramount. Encouraging biking to school promotes exercise and reduces traffic congestion and carbon emissions – it really is a win-win for everyone involved.
If you are a school which agrees with all the above benefits but are wondering how to get more of your students and parents on two wheels, read on. We have gathered a few strategies that effectively inspire students to hop on their bicycles and do their daily school trips by pedalling.
Create a Safe and Inviting Route
Begin by working with local authorities to establish safe bike routes leading to the school. This may involve adding designated bike lanes, improving intersections, and ensuring proper signage to guide cyclists.
You could also consider creating an exclusion zone – a restricted road in front of your school which isn't used by motorised traffic during the school drop-off and pick-up times, as trailed in London.
Organise Bike Safety and Maintenance Workshops
One of the worries parents, and probably kids themselves, have is their lack of skills and knowledge about the roads. Safety can be significantly improved by hosting workshops to educate students on essential biking practices and the basics of the Highway Code. Cover topics such as helmet usage, road rules, hand signals, and strategies for navigating traffic safely.
On the other hand, it is always an excellent idea to hold maintenance workshops, too. Equip students with basic bike maintenance skills like checking tire pressure, oiling chains, and minor repairs. This empowers them to care for their bikes and builds a sense of responsibility. And it obviously comes in handy should they puncture a tire.
Provide Secure Bike Parking
One of the significant issues students have when it comes to cycling to and from school is the absence of adequate bike storage facilities on the school grounds. The lack of a secure parking space can dissuade both children and parents from choosing this eco-friendly mode of transportation due to concerns about potential damage or theft.
As part of your school's efforts to promote cycling, it's imperative to incorporate provisions for secure and conveniently accessible bike storage. Install some bike stands, bike shelters, or bike lockers. Consider alternatives that are also popular with kids, like scooter racks or skateboard racks.
Parents play a vital role in this initiative. They need to feel confident their kid won't get hurt. Provide them with resources and information on the benefits of biking to school and encourage them to support their children – by riding with them, getting other parents and kids together, forming bike buses or taking turns with other mums and dads to ride with a group of kids.
Implement a Rewards Program
Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Create a rewards program to recognise and celebrate students who consistently choose to ride their bikes. Consider offering certificates or small prizes. Consider doing class competitions – weekly or monthly, by logging everyone's cycling trips.
Or get inspiration from one of London's STARS most successful schemes: to give out breakfast vouchers to children who cycle to school.
Establish a Bike Club
Some schools set up bike clubs as an after-school activity. Form a bike club or group where students can meet, ride together, and share their experiences. This sense of community can make biking more appealing and create a supportive network for novice riders and kids who are unsure of their abilities but would like to try it nonetheless.
Integrate Biking into the Curriculum
To make the effort more impactful and school-wide, consider incorporating lessons about bike safety, environmental benefits, and healthy lifestyles into the curriculum. This not only educates students but also reinforces the importance of biking.
By implementing these strategies, schools can create a biking-friendly environment that promotes physical health and contributes to a more sustainable future. Encouraging students to ride their bikes to school empowers them to make eco-conscious choices and instils a lifelong appreciation for alternative modes of transportation.