Besides being Green Transport Week it is also Bike Week. I think we all agree that it is a “good thing” for our young people to take more exercise, that it is good to be fitter, less overweight and that the exercise boosts our sense of wellbeing as well as our physical and mental performance.
As I am committed to trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle I try to cycle to as many of my schools as possible. One of the things I notice is the provision that the school has for locking up bicycles, scooters, etc. They vary from nice covered cycle racks and rails at the front of the school proudly proclaiming that in this school pupils and staff are encouraged to use their bikes, schools where there is a cycle rack or two hidden around the back of the school to schools where there is no provision at all and I have to find a suitable fence or post to lock up to.
One of the obvious issues is funding – schools are having to be very watchful of their pennies and may find it hard to justify spending on a cycle rack. But if it is a good thing to encourage our children (and staff) to take more exercise then I think that we should be at least trying to provide the facilities. With this in mind here are a few sources of ideas and funding for installing bike racks:
- Sustrans – an organisation promoting sustainable transport. They have a good website providing ideas on how to encourage pupils and parents to think about how they travel to school. They provide a series of information sheets including funding ideas and an e-news that you can subscribe to for the latest funding alerts;
- a number of manufacturers of bike shelters provide advice on funding including Miko Engineering and Able Canopies (n.b I have no connection with these companies, they just happened to be top results in Google!)
- there are many organisations who will provide grants towards projects such as installing bike shelters, in particular Biffa have a small grants scheme. You have to be within 10 miles of a Biffa operation and the website has a search facility where you enter your post code to see if you meet this requirement.
- if you are looking at installing bike racks why not involve your pupils? They could do a survey to find out who does / would / wouldn’t cycle to school and why; where the best place for a cycle rack would be; how it might blend into the school environment rather than be an eye sore; produce publicity material to encourage cycling, etc.
And if you do decide to go down this route, why not get the pupils to follow the progress by keeping a diary or blog on the VLE? There are also an increasing number of devices and applications that you can use on phones to show your levels of exercise, why not use a bit of competition and technology to encourage more exercise and do some data-logging and numeracy at the same time!
If you find any of this useful do please let me know and hopefully I will come and lock my bike up to your bike rack!