Northern Ireland

Schools and families urged to use pedal power and get involved in Cycle to School Week

Dave Wiggins from Sustrans helps children from Bocombra PS prepare for Cycle to School Week 2023. Picture by Brian Morrison
Dave Wiggins from Sustrans helps children from Bocombra PS prepare for Cycle to School Week 2023. Picture by Brian Morrison

Schools and families are being urged to start using pedal power and get involved in Cycle to School Week.

Starting on Monday, the annual event encourages young people to cycle to school in a bid to promote healthy habits and alternative travel methods.

Sustrans and The Bikeability Trust are calling on schools and families across Northern Ireland to take part and find out how cycling to school can be a healthy, cheap and fun way to travel.

Almost half of primary school pupils in the north live less than a mile from their school, almost two-thirds are driven the short distance.

A Sustrans survey shows around four out of every five children would like to make that journey by walking, wheeling, scooting or cycling.

Cycle to School Week encourages families and schools to celebrate cycling with participants can choose to pledge to swap one car journey for cycling; or to cycle to school every day; cycle with their family or discover somewhere new on a cycle ride.

Sustrans is working to enable more schools to allow pupils to choose active travel journeys all year round by delivering the Active School Travel (AST) programme funded by the Public Health Agency and the Department for Infrastructure.

Read more:

  • Department for Infrastructure reverses funding cut for schools travel scheme
  • Lack of safe routes is preventing more children and families walking, scooting or wheeling to school, says charity

It provides schools with a planned programme of activities, both in and out of the classroom with support from a dedicated Sustrans active travel officer.

Emma Craig, a teacher at Bocombra PS in Craigavon, said the guidance from their Sustrans adviser Dave Wiggins had been invaluable, including help obtaining a bike shed.

"Dave also assisted us in applying for a much-needed toucan crossing to be placed at the school gate which ensures that our pupils have direct access to the main cycle network around Craigavon, linking us to different housing developments and provides a safe route to school for many pupils," she said.

Beth Harding from Sustrans said: “For generations of children, cycling to school has been an opportunity to be active and independent.

"Young people today are just as eager to enjoy those same journeys.

"That’s why walking and cycling must be made easier and safer for everyone, especially through safe infrastructure around schools.

"We continue to make our call for Safe Routes to Schools and School Streets in NI.

“Encouraging families and friends to walk, wheel and cycle together, builds positive habits that last a lifetime."