New study shows 48% of primary school children would like to cycle to school.

A new report released by the Policy Studies Institute shows 48% of primary school children would like to cycle to school but only 4 per cent are actually doing so.

Over the last four decades, a large reduction in children’s independent mobility - the extent to which they are allowed to travel and play in their local area, means fewer youngsters playing outside without supervision and fewer children cycling or walking to school. Only 25% of primary school children are allowed to travel home from school alone compared with 86% in 1971 and whilst 48% of primary school children would like to cycle to school, only 4% are currently doing so.

Despite the health benefits of cycling and physical activity, many parents cited concerns about the safety of our streets as a main reason for restricting children’s independent mobility.

LCC Chair and author of ‘Let Me Out; How To Enjoy The School Run’ Ann Kenrick said:

"With a new school term just beginning, Government research predicts that by 2050, 55% of boys and 70% of girls could be overweight or obese, costing the NHS and taxpayer over £50 billion. At the same time research shows that, while parents estimate their children's daily activity at 146 minutes, it is actually less than 30 minutes.

If we want our children to avoid the obesity epidemic and lead healthy lives we need to do all we can to provide a safe and encouraging environment. The London Cycling Campaign is working to promote precisely these conditions."

The study also found that English primary school children have far less independence to get about alone when compared to German children of the same age. Teenagers from 11 to 15 years old have also been facing greater restrictions on their independence.

Ben Watson, Research Fellow at the Policy Studies Institute (and one of the authors of the report) said: "Independent mobility has been shown to be good for children’s wellbeing and development. The experience from Germany shows that this drop is not an inevitable result of modern life. If we care about the future health of our children, action should be taken to enable them to regain the right to a safe outdoor environment without the need for adult supervision.”

 

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Links: two-page summary and full report.

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