Cycling to school

Cycling to school helps young people to develop road safety skills and become more confident and independent. It’s frequently stated that children don’t get enough exercise – cycling to school can contribute towards the recommended one hour a day of physical activity.

If your child cycles to school, make sure their bike is in good working order, and that they wear a helmet and reflective jacket. Work out the best route, with the least traffic.

Don’t let the children have all the fun! Why not cycle with your children to school? You can use the ‘school run’ as the kick-start to better health you’ve been planning for ages. Cycling to school will save you money on bus fares or petrol and is often quicker than getting into the car and getting snarled up in traffic.

Traffic and pollution on roads around a school are also reduced when more children travel by bike.

Top Tips

Buying a bike: You don’t need to spend a fortune on buying a bike for your child, but it is important to get the right size bike in good working order.

It is essential that your child’s bike:

  • Fits properly as a bike that is too big or too small is dangerous. Don’t be tempted to go for a bike that your child will ‘grow into’. Most bikes can be adjusted to allow for growth, so make sure that your child can sit comfortably on it with the seat at its lowest setting. To begin with, the balls of their feet should just touch the ground, and they should be able to turn the handlebars, brake and change gear without over-stretching.
  • What type should we get? The array of types and styles can be confusing. Be clear about exactly what your child will use his or her bike for, then ask the bike shop or dealer for advice. If the bike doesn’t come fitted with mudguards – most don’t – have the dealer fit them.
  • Has lights consider fitting dynamo lights so you’re not so reliant on batteries.

Cycle helmets: Travel Devon strongly recommends that children wear helmets when cycling. However, it is not mandatory for children to wear helmets when cycling. Don’t be influenced by helmets that feature cartoon characters; buy for safety and ventilation, not just looks. Helmets should always be bought new and should conform to one of the following safety standards: BS6863, AS2063.86, ANSIZ90.4, SNELL B90 or B95.

It is essential that your child’s helmet fits properly:

  • It must not interfere their ability to see and hear clearly
  • It should be positioned squarely on their head, sitting just above their eyebrows (not pushed back or forwards)
  • The straps should be securely fastened and not twisted, with enough room for two of fingers to be inserted between chin and strap
  • It should feel comfortable
  • It must be cycle-specific

Be Bright, Be Seen: When the weather is dull, clothing needs to be bright, fluorescent or white. Remember bright colours can’t be seen in the dark, so at night reflective gear is the safest choice. Making sure children can be easily seen when out and about is a really important part of keeping them safe.

 Further information

For schools