Looking for some inspiration for how to make the hectic school run a little more fun? Cycling, walking or scooting to school is the best way to change things up and reduce your carbon footprint. So we've put together a list of 9 reasons why your family should ditch the car and enjoy a school run in the fresh air.
The average primary school journey is just 1.6 miles. And yet one in four cars on the road during the morning peak are doing the school run.
There are so many benefits to encouraging children to walk, cycle and scoot more regularly to school.
It will reduce congestion and pollution around the school gates.
And it will also help your child’s mental and physical health.
Teachers find that pupils who walk and cycle arrive at school more relaxed, alert and ready to start the day than those who travel by car.
Chris Bennett, our Head of Behaviour Change, shares his top 9 reasons to shake up your school run.
1. Build activity into the whole family’s routine
According to government guidelines, children and young people aged 5 to 18 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
And adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes a week.
At 1.6 miles, the average primary school journey is a distance that can be cycled, scooted or walked.
It's the perfect way to squeeze in more activity into our busy lives.
2. It's a boost for mental health and wellbeing
Physical activity can increase mental alertness, energy, positive mood and self-esteem.
It also helped to reduce stress and anxiety, according to the Mental Health Foundation.
3. It's the best way to start the day
Teachers find that pupils who walk, cycle or scoot arrive at school more relaxed, alert and ready to start the day than those who travel by car.
Getting outdoors allows children to experience independence and to connect to their environment.
And it's a great way for families to spend time together.
Parents can benefit in the same way too and burn some precious calories along the way.
A 20-minute bike ride can use the same amount of calories as a cappuccino, a bar of chocolate or a 175ml glass of wine.
All the more reason to enjoy the things you love.
4. It will help ease congestion outside the school gate
1 in 5 cars in the morning rush are on the school run.
Leaving the car at home means you’ll take the hassle out of parking too.
5. It's good for the environment
Up to 40,000 early deaths are attributable to air pollution each year in the UK.
Getting out of the car and on to your bike or scooter, and walking are all great ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
It'll help reduce air pollution and address the climate crisis.
6. It increases children’s road safety awareness
Instilling a love of cycling, scooting or walking in children from a young age has long-lasting benefits.
It develops road awareness which encourages independent travel as a teenager. It can also create good habits for a more active adult life. A win-win all round.
7. It lets you connect with the world around you
Cycling, scooting and walking brings you closer to nature and the changes in the seasons.
You'll spot wildlife and notice the leaves changing colour on the trees.
And two wheels are better than four when it comes to connecting with nature and getting to know your local area.
8. You’ll save money
Cycling, scooting or walking the school run will save you and your family a small fortune.
You'll be forking out less on petrol. And you might also save money on gym fees, leaving you with more cash in your pocket.
9. Think of all the fresh air, freedom and fun you’ll have along the way
Taking time out of your day to cycle, scoot or walk together is a great chance to catch up on your child’s day.
And it's a good way to spend quality time with each other.
You'll all enjoy the fresh air and freedom of an active school run.
Take part in the Big Pedal
Get even more families walking, cycling and scooting to school by making sure your school signs up to the 2021 Big Pedal.
And there are loads of great prizes up for grabs when you get involved.Sustrans Big Pedal
Top tips for parents
Mornings are a busy time for parents and it can be overwhelming to get your child ready for cycling or scooting on top of other things you need to do before leaving home.
With a little preparation, cycling or scooting can be the best way to get to school.
Here are our top tips to help your child become a bicycle or scooter commuter.
Plan your journey in advance
Choose a smooth, flat route and avoid steep hills and busy roads where possible.
When starting out it’s a good idea to take your child to the park or another traffic-free area to practise their cycling or scooting.
Check the bikes
Make sure your child's bike fits and all your bikes are roadworthy.
And check the scooters
If you’re using a scooter, ensure any bolts are tightened before setting off.
Check the wheels and handlebars are attached securely.
Make sure any folding parts are fully locked in the riding position.
Wear sensible shoes
It might sound obvious, but children should wear sensible shoes such as trainers. Flip-flops and sandals aren’t suitable.
Avoid wearing baggy clothing which may get caught up in the bike or scooter.
Keep the balance
Don’t hang anything on the handlebars as it could upset the balance of the bike or scooter.
Stay behind your children
If you're on the road with children take up a position behind them.
If there are two adults in your group it's a good idea to have one at the back and one in front of the children.
Set a good example
Follow the Highway Code and teach children road safety and awareness.
Stay nearest to the road
When your child is scooting on the pavement make sure you walk nearest the road.
Encourage children to go slowly or to walk where necessary when passing other people on the pavement.
Your child should get off their bike or scooter when crossing roads.
Think about helmets
Helmets are recommended for young children, though ultimately this is a question of individual choice and parents need to make that choice for their children.