The number of girls cycling to school over the past 10 years has almost tripled in participating schools, thanks to the support from an innovative Sustrans Scotland project.
A total of 7.9% of girls at schools supported through Sustrans’ I Bike programme reported cycling to school in 2018 compared to 2.8% in 2008 – a 5.1% point difference.
The findings follow research from the Scottish Government’s Scottish Health Survey which showed that girls are less likely than boys to meet the recommended physical activity recommendations.
I Bike, funded by the Scottish Government and delivered through Sustrans Scotland, promotes walking, cycling and scootering to school and aims to reduce the gender gap which sees more boys cycling to school than girls. The project has carried out more than 6,200 activities aimed at girls in the past three years alone.
Alongside contributing to a rise in the number of girls cycling to school, according to the 2016 Hands Up Scotland Survey, I Bike schools show that an average of 7.1% of pupils travel to school by bike, compared to the national average of 3.7%.
It has also contributed to an average 8% increase in active travel in schools, compared to those without I Bike.
The findings come as the project celebrates its 10th anniversary on Friday 5 April at Pentland Primary in Edinburgh, one of the first schools to register for the I Bike programme in 2009.
Sustrans Scotland Head of Behaviour Change Lynn Stocks added: “We’re really proud of the role I Bike has played in schools across Scotland in creating a walking and cycling culture with parents, teachers and pupils.
”I Bike is the most successful and established active travel programme working in schools across Scotland. It has encouraged children to be more active, taught pupils vital skills and confidence in cycling, and helped to increase the number of girls travelling actively to school.
“Over the next 10 years, we want to see even more local authorities, schools and volunteers signing up to our programme to help children lead healthier, independent and more active lives.”
Since 2009, I Bike has worked in a total of 375 schools across Scotland, engaging with more than 75,000 pupils.
Lee Craigie, Active Nation Commissioner for Scotland said: “For the past ten years, I Bike has been inspiring young people, and particularly young girls, to get on their bike and live a more active life. By teaching pupils the skills to cycle safely, and by discovering the sense of freedom that can come from two wheels, it’s not surprising that where I Bike is deployed in schools, you see more pupils choosing to walk and cycle.
“So much has been achieved in the last ten years of I Bike in Scotland. This couldn’t be achieved without plenty of support from the inspirational volunteers which help bring the programme to pupils across the country.”
Transport and Environment Convener, City of Edinburgh Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “I Bike has proved extremely valuable for encouraging young people and their families to take up active travel in Edinburgh and across Scotland, so I’m delighted to be returning to celebrate its 10th birthday at Pentland Primary School, where the scheme has had a real impact over the last decade.
“In Edinburgh, we are committed to spreading the benefits of walking and cycling by making it easier and more attractive to travel by foot or on two wheels, and it’s clear that programmes like I Bike have a significant effect, instilling the confidence and skills to help children to choose to travel actively.”
 Please note: The wording of the question in the yearly I Bike survey has changed. In 2008/09, pupils were asked, “How did you travel to school today?” In 2017/18 pupils were asked, “How do you usually (most often) travel to school?”