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CHANGING GEAR

 

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Changing Gear is a project to encourage cycling to school in Stroud during (and after) national bike week on 14th to 20th June 2008. The project is being organised by Transition Stroud, Stroud Cycle Campaign, Bicycology and the local secondary schools. It is sponsored by Stroud Town Council, Stroud District Council, Ecotricity, The Greenshop, Green Fuels and Transport 21 as well as participating cycle shops, Cytek, Noah’s Ark and Stonehouse Accessories.

Thanks for taking an interest in Cycling to School for National Bike Week.

Please view the video of our successful Changing Gear cycle to school week in 2008.

There are lots of great reasons to cycle to school, and also lots of things to think about.  So we’ve come up with the following information, and collected some links you may find useful if you’d like to do your own further research.  If you still can’t get an answer to your question email stroud@bicycology.org.uk.

Much as we would like you to cycle to school, your school can accept no liability for children’s journey’s (whatever form of transport they use) so it is important that you consider the issues and take responsibility.

Below you will find information on the Benefits of Cycling (Health, Attention and Academic Performance, Environmental & Community), Bike Maintenance, Safety Considerations (including Helmets, Hi-Viz & Cycle Training and Skills), and What to do after National Bike Week?

For a basic introduction see either the Bike for All web page Cycling to School, or the Sustrans leaflet Cycling to School.  Both contain brief information, links and answers to common questions about relevant issues.

If you’re an amateur statistician, you might like Sustrans’ Facts and Figures to support School travel Initiatives

Benefits of Cycling:

Healthier and happier Why Cycle? You can find clear and concise answers at Why Cycle and Sustrans.

For a more in depth look at the benefits of cycling to individuals and the country as a whole see Cycling England’s document Valuing the Benefits of Cycling.

Health:

The health benefits of cycling are clear. Sustrans have collated information relevant to Walking and Cycling to School .

Alternatively, BUPA’s healthy living summary may be useful.

Or for more detailed information, try the Cycling England report, Cycling and Health – What’s the evidence? by Nick Cavill and Dr Adrian Davis.  This examines the importance of  physical activity for public health, evidence for the specific health effects of cycling, risks of cycling and wide benefits attributable to cycling.

Environmental Benefits:

cycle-thomas-keeble.jpg Hopefully these are pretty obvious! More cycling and less driving means less noise and air pollution, less congestion, and fewer harmful greenhouse gas emissions.  However, if you would like more detailed information, you could try the following:

Cost:

Cycling is practically free – and with the price of fuel rising dramatically recently, there’s never been a better time to swap car for bike.

The cost-savings don’t just apply to individuals however. The cost of a metre:

  • of The Channel Tunnel, cost £145,320
  • of Widened M6 will cost, £35,000
  • of Widened M1 will cost, £27,000
  • of cycle lane, on the other hand, costs a mere £180.

Safety:

There is a widespread public perception that it is not safe for children to cycle to school – although the evidence suggests differently.

cycle_maintenance1.jpgPre-event publicity and the increased numbers of students cycling is likely to make the cycling environment safer because motorists will need to take greater care.  We have and will continue to work with the local authorities (councils and the police) on making improvements to local infrastructure.  For this year’s event we have to work with what we have, however.  Below is information you may find useful – both background to safety issues and specific tips to make your journey to school more enjoyable.

As the natural instinct of a parent is to protect, many young children are now being driven to school to keep them safe. This is often convenient for parents with busy lives and is sometimes their only option. However, it can cause havoc around schools when a high number of cars arrive at the same time, ironically putting children and other pedestrians at more risk. This report suggests that there is a growing generation of "backseat children" in the UK who are – in the long-run – being put in more danger than they are being protected from.

Sustrans have produced some information for parents and schools on Staying Safe on the School Journey.

The first thing you should do is to think about your route.  Though some roads between home and school may seem too busy or too fast, there may be an alternative route that is more suitable.  You may want to ride routes yourself prior to Bike Week and suggest a preferred option to your child.

When route planning you may find Stroud Valley’s Cycle Campaign’s recently produced Cycle Map useful.  It colour-codes roads according to their ‘cycle-ability’ – assessed according to traffic levels and gradient.

Sustrans provide an online map which shows National Cycle Network and other traffic-free routes.

Helmets:

fitting-helmets.jpg Helmets are not compulsory, and there is in fact a healthy debate about their benefits and disadvantages.  It is recommended that you and your child do your own research and decide for yourselves.  If you do choose to wear a Helmet, it is essential that it is fitted properly (get advice in Cytek, Stonehouse Accessories or Noah’s Ark), and in good condition. If buying one new, it should conform to one of the following safety standards: BS6863, AS2063.86, ANSIZ90.4, SNELL B90 or B95.  It is important to remember that Helmets are a safety aid, not a guarantee of safety, and there is no substitute for careful and responsible riding.

Why Cycle provides background information and extensive links to the arguments for and against helmets .

The CTC (Cyclist’s Touring Club, the longest-running cyclists’ organisation), also consider a variety of viewpoints on helmets. This includes a summary of recent evidence.

Finally, you can see a clear comparison of the arguments for why you should, or shouldn’t wear a helmet..

Hi-Viz, or High-Visbility Jackets:

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High visibility clothing makes sense in conditions of poor visibility, as does reflective clothing at night. However, dressing in fluorescent yellow is no guarantee that all drivers will treat you with courtesy.  Hi-Viz clothing is a safety aid, not a guarantee of safety, and there is no substitute for careful and responsible riding.

Cycle Security / Parking:

Secure cycle parking is one of the main concerns for those already cycling to school and those considering it.  Facilities are not ideal at any of the seconday schools in the Stroud area.  However the schools are looking to improve this and Sustrans provides a leaflet oulining the issues and options.

Cycle Training:

Cycle Training Taking part in a professional cycle-training course can increase your safety and enjoyment of cycling.  Your child may have taken part in Cycling Proficiency or National Standards Level 1 & 2 training at Primary School.  Secondary schools can arrange Level 3 National Standards training with the County Council, but uptake in the Stroud area has so far not been sufficient for this training to be regular or comprehensive.

Bicycology Dr Bike Mechanics:

Bicycology has an introduction to Beautifully Basic Bike Maintenance and a Beautifully Basic M-Check page, which outlines the things you need to check on your bike.

There is also a simple Bicycology guide to puncture repair.

After National Bike Week:

We hope that pupils will continue to cycle to school after National Bike Week and that the Changing Gear project will be the start of a process of working towards much better provision for pupils who wish to cycle to school.  Statistics suggest that 45% of children want to cycle to school but only 4% actually do, so there is plenty of work to do! The following are ideas for ways to follow up the project.

  • Sustrans organise a variety of projects aimed at increasing numbers of children cycling to school, and of people cycling generally.
  • School Champions can be a teachers, parents or pupils who are intrinsically motivated to develop cycling.  You can nominate yourself and Sustrans will provide starter packs on what to do and application forms.
  • Safe Routes to Schools focusses on measures that can be incorporated at the level of highways infrastructure.
  • Change Your World is a project organised by Sustrans.  The idea is to commit to swapping one car journey a week to going by bike.
  • Bike It is a project that has achieve massive success at a variety of schools

 

Changing Gear has been organised in partnership with the following organisations:

  • Transition Stroud Travel & Transport Group is an open group made up of members of the public concerned about Climate Change and Peak Oil, and looking at ways in which the local Transport infrastructure can be improved to deal with these challenges.
  • Stroud District Council’s Pedestrian and Cycle Forum meets four times a year, to discuss current issues affecting cycling in the District, and to lobby for improvements. Anybody interested in cycling is welcome to attend; for further details, please contact Krista Harris on 01453 754325.
  • Stroud Valleys’ Cycle Campaign
  • Transport 21 is a not-for-profit organisation based in Stroud, and works to promote sustainable transport throughout Gloucestershire
  • Bicycology Stroud is a local group that runs occasional events aimed at promoting cycling and encouraging people to act on environmental and social issues. 

We are also grateful to the following local bike shops for their support

 Transition Stroud