[A shot from the latest Kidical Mass ‘protest’ ride]
Youngsters across Bath and NE Somerset are being encouraged to reap the benefits of pedal power and cycle to school this week, and beyond, by the region’s directly-elected Mayor, Dan Norris.
He’s teaming up with Sustrans this ‘Cycle to School Week’ which starts today (Monday 25 September) by launching the cycling call to arms in a bid to save the planet.
Surveys show over 50% of both primary and secondary pupils in the West, and across the country, live within 1 mile of their school. But while surveys in schools show most kids want to hop on two wheels, only around 2% do so nationally.
According to one study, if children in England cycled to school as much as Dutch students do, more than two in five would be making their journey by bike – a 22-fold increase from current levels!
It’s a particular problem when it comes to secondary schools in the area, according to the cycle charity, with cycling rates dropping off during teenage years, especially for young women.
Mr Norris says he is concerned the majority of kids aged 11 to 16 in Bath and NE Somerset aren’t getting the levels of exercise they need to stay healthy, and that encouraging more locals to take short trips, such as those to and from school, on bike is vital to help slash emissions and clean up the region’s toxic air.
To make these journeys easier and safer, Mayor Norris’s West of England Mayoral Combined Authority has secured and committed over £13 million to boost cycling and walking, including improving the region’s cycle routes such as the Scholars Way route in Bath.
Mr Norris, who will meet students from Hayesfield Girls School in Bath on Thursday to talk about the benefits of power pedal, and take part in a bike maintenance workshop said: “If we are going to cut those traffic jams and slash pollution in Bath and NE Somerset, one tool in our arsenal has to be more cycling.
“That’s why the more we can help the region’s young people to see walking and cycling as the natural choice for shorter everyday journeys, the better it will be not just for their own health and wellbeing, but the health of our planet as well. It’s why my Mayoral Combined Authority has invested millions in things like new and improved cycle lanes, so people feel safe on their bike, and more.
“The good thing is school kids in Bath and NE Somerset are clearly really eager to hop on two wheels. I urge them, and everyone in the West of England, to build good habits that last a lifetime, and help save the planet at the same time.”
Ben Bowskill, Sustrans’ Partnerships and Public Affairs Manager for the West of England said: “We’re delighted to partner with The Bikeability Trust for Cycle to School Week 2023, encouraging families and friends to walk, wheel and cycle together.
“Cycling to school is a healthy, sustainable and fun way to travel, but we know from our Walking and Cycling Index 2021 that only 29% of residents UK-wide think the level of safety for children cycling is good.
“There is appetite to travel actively to school, but everyone must be made to feel safe while doing it. That’s why we must prioritise making walking and cycling easier and safer in order to continue building these positive travel habits that last a lifetime.”
This follows another week-end Kidical Mass ride in Bath.
The name ‘Kidical Mass’ is a pun on the Critical Mass cycling event and ‘ kid ‘ meaning ‘child’. The name was first used for a ride in Eugene, Oregon which took place on 18 th April 2008.
We’ve been seeing them in Bath for the last couple of years. Kidical Mass is more than just a protest – says Cycling UK – it gives children a voice, creating a positive vision for the future, and connecting the young and old across the cycling community.