Very occasionally my daughter and I cycle to her school rather than drive. Even more occasionally we’ll walk but it takes about 15 or 20 minutes with a distracted seven year old and we’re rarely organised enough to leave home on time.
I hate doing the school run in the car for two main reasons. The first is that it’s less than a mile. It seems horribly wasteful environmentally, financially, in terms of common sense, health and just about about every other thing I can think of to drive such a short distance. The second is that there is a severe shortage of space around the school so parking is difficult and it creates really dangerous situations for the children, pedestrians, other drivers, pets and even other vehicles.
So why don’t we cycle more often? The main reason is that there isn’t a proper area at the school for bikes. I really need to post a video of where we have to go through to leave the bike at school because it’s very hard to explain but it involves wheeling the bike into and out of the school itself (three doors in a really cramped, congested area), through two gates and down a very narrow path.
We have a further problem in that being a single parent I only have my daughter with me for half of the week. She comes to me on a Wednesday after school so, at best we could cycle on Thursdays and maybe Fridays but she goes to a child minder after school and couldn’t easily take her bike back to their house. The area where we currently have to leave her bike is not accessible out of school hours so if we cycle down on a Friday the bike is there until the Monday.
What I’d really like is to have a covered bike rack installed at the school, ideally at the front of the school buildings where it is easily accessible so bikes can be left there and collected out of school hours. My daughter tells me that the new school Eco Warriors group have talked about this and I am going to find out how things are progressing (if they are) and see if I can do anything to help get something sorted out.
I’d guess that parents have one other fear and that is of their children cycling to school because of the traffic. The only thing I can say about this is that when we cycle I am conscious that the drivers through the village (which is essentially a single lane due to parked cars) really slow down and take much more care than when there are just other cars around. This is probably helped by the fact that most of the traffic passing through the village at the school run times is made up of parents actually doing the school run.
I’d love to turn our village back into one where the children can safely and confidently walk or cycle to each others houses or to the recreation ground. We are very lucky that our village is not part of a rat run and doesn’t have a large amount of traffic passing through it so making it a safer place really should be achievable.
Maybe by having bike racks at the Village Hall and pub would also help encourage more people to cycle through and around the village and not just jump in their cars and drive. I’ve been as guilty, maybe worse, than anyone else. Now I’d like to make amends.