71% of parents want improved cycle to school options reveals survey

A YouGov survey, commissioned by Sustrans, surveyed 1,013 parents of children under 16 about their views on the school run during September, following various school closures across the UK due to Covid-19.

Despite a reported cycling boom during the lockdown, the latest figures show that road traffic congestion levels have increased as we see the re-opening of schools and work places.

According to new figures, 59% of UK parents in the UK do not enjoy their daily journey to school. Yorkshire and Humber take the lead with the most amount of people unhappy with the school run at 67%.

As issues surrounding congestion continue to make headlines, out of those who admitted to disliking the school run, 62% named congestion as the reason why.

Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans said: “These figures highlighting why parents currently dislike the school run clearly show that more needs to be done by local authorities to help make walking and cycling the easiest and most appealing options for families travelling to school.

“The journey to school shouldn’t have to be a stressful or negative part of the day, and yet it seems that way for a lot of families across the country. As schools have now returned following closures amid Covid-19, families are looking for safe and socially distanced ways to travel.

“Therefore, there is a real risk people will be locked into car dependency, causing gridlock and adding to dangerous levels of pollution, unless councils provide viable alternatives by making walking and cycling safer for everyday journeys, including the school run”.

71% of the surveyed parents agreed that local authorities should take steps to make it easier for families to walk and cycle to school. Additionally, over half of those surveyed supported changes that have already been made to the streets and places in their local area to make active travel to school easier. Building more cycle routes separated from road traffic was identified amongst parents as the number one intervention that would help them, and their children cycle to school more.

Sustrans is encouraging local authorities across the UK to remove through traffic from residential areas and school streets. The charity says the UK Government should enact part six of the Road Traffic Management Act as soon as possible to give local authorities outside London the ability to enforce school streets, as part of the Covid19 active travel measures.

As well as changes to the built environment, 23% of parents recognise cycle training as something that would help their child cycle to school.

Emily Cherry, Executive Director at The Bikeability Trust said: “We are encouraged that 23% of parents see cycle training as one of the main ways to encourage their child to cycle to school more often.

“We know that high quality Bikeability training improves the confidence of children and parents alike to cycle and we are working to ensure that our training is available for any school that wants it.

“This term our Bikeability Instructors are delivering training in a way that can meet the Government’s COVID-19 requirements. We have also piloted a new Bikeability module for families, recognising the importance of helping parents and children learn this essential life-skill for healthy, independent travel.”

Chris Heaton-Harris, Cycling & Walking Minister said: “We know cycling and walking is good for our health and happiness – so making it easier for students and their families to build active travel into the school run where they can is a no brainer.

“Well designed cycling and walking schemes significantly cut rat-running traffic, improve air quality and reduce noise pollution. But we also know we must ensure they work for the whole community. That’s why, as part of our £2bn commitment, we’re closely looking at council plans for future cycling and walking infrastructure, so the journey to and from the classroom is reliable and enjoyable for everyone.

“We’re also consulting on ways to tackle pavement parking in England and would encourage anybody with an interest to have their say.”

Sustrans has received over £95,000 funding from the Road Safety Trust to evaluate the impact of school streets as of June 2020. The Road Safety Trust has awarded a total of £837,900 funding to six organisations across the UK.