£13m invested in teaching kids to ride a bike - but where are they going to cycle????
Today the Department for Transport has announced a further £13m of government money is being invested in the Bikeability Scheme, helping to ensure that more children are taught to ride a bike.
Doesn't this sound a positive move??? Should we, as parents, not be celebrating and thanking the government for their generosity??
When I read the press release sent from the Department for Transport I learnt that "the funding will ensure that the programme is able to continue for another year, and so that approximately 50% of primary schools across England will be able to access the programme."
So what they're saying is they're continuing to fund an existing scheme, which only covers half of schools in England, rather than pulling their funding. I guess we should be thankful for that!!!!
No surprise however that Cycling UK immediately called for the £13m to be doubled, to allow every child in the UK to receive Bikeability training.
Cycle Sprog readers will be particularly interested to learn that Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, said:
“Cycling and walking are great forms of exercise, helping to reduce child obesity, and boosting people’s physical and mental health.
“I am delighted to see Bikeability has now supported three million children to take to their bikes safely and confidently, kick-starting a lifetime of cycling for them."
Is it just me wanting to shout out loud at this statement???
Where are they supposed to cycle safely Grant Shapps??? Have you seen the state of the roads???? Have you tried cycling with a child to school in most parts of the UK???
And there's more...... Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, said:
“The benefits of cycling to school go far beyond providing an active and fun way for children to get to school. Cycling cuts carbon emissions and traffic levels outside of schools by taking cars off the road.
"The Government’s Bikeability scheme gives young people the knowledge and confidence they need to cycle safely, providing peace of mind to parents, pupils and schools and I’m so pleased that we’re able to invest this new money in the programme – it’s an investment in our future.”
Peace of mind???? I'm going to give you a piece of my mind Gavin Williamson.... What would give me peace of mind is knowing that when my children are cycling they are not mixing with fast moving traffic. I would have peace of mind if I knew that the cycle paths they use don't suddenly throw them out into traffic at the most dangerous junctions in our town.
And guess what? Jo Churchill, Public Health Minister, also keen to get in on the act, said “The extension of this scheme is a vital step in encouraging more children to be active. Physical activity has so many health benefits for our children – it keeps them fit and healthy, strengthens muscles and bones, increases self-esteem, and improves concentration and learning in school.
As part of our prevention green paper, we set out our ambition to promote more active travel. Building activity into the school run is one of the many ways to do this and the Bikeability scheme will help more children stay active every day. What’s more, its fun!”
Just a minute Jo Churchill - how does this continuation of the scheme build activity into the school run, if there's not the safe routes for kids to cycle to school??? Is it "fun" worrying if you're going to get safely to and from your destination? Is it "fun" having drivers swearing at you as you ride to school with your children, because they perceive you're slowing them down? Is if "fun" having drivers wind down their windows to tell you you should be reported to social services for letting your child cycle to school in the traffic?? These are all things that have happened to Cycle Sprog readers on the school run, and I can tell you it's not our definition of fun.
Current funding for cycling and walking is estimated at £7 per person in England, equating to a little over two per cent of total transport spending.
The Walking and Cycling Alliance has this month already called for funding for active travel infrastructure and programmes to urgently increase to £17 per person annually immediately, and £34 per person by 2025.
The governments spending commitments for the next 12 months announced by the Chancellor just over a month ago had no mention what so ever about active travel.
Today's announcement feels a little bit like a pat on the head and a "there, there, off you go and continue to ride your bikes around the playground, whilst we go and spend all our money on building roads that aren't safe for you to ride on".
All this is very frustrating, but we need to continue to make our voice hear. Pester your councillors, your MP and your planning department so they know that you care about this topic.....
Photo by Sabine Peters on Unsplash.
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