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With many children returning to school this week, Sustrans senior policy and political advisor Rachel White reveals what measures we need in place to encourage more kids to make the journey by bike.

One in four cars on the road during the morning peak are doing the school run.

This has a large number of negative effects such as congestion and air pollution. So much so that a joint investigation by Greenpeace and The Guardian found that more than 2,000 primary schools and nurseries are in areas of dangerous air pollution across England and Wales. It also has very negative effects on road safety and parents’ perceptions of safety.

This prevents parents from feeling comfortable about allowing their children to cycle the school journey and …you guessed it…means they drive them instead, further increasing the problem.

Here is a huge missed opportunity – the average primary school journey is just 1.6 miles. A distance that could easily be cycled. Children who cycle and walk to school have been shown to be more alert and ready to learn.

An active journey also helps contribute towards a child’s recommended amount of physical activity which is vitally important when one in five children are obese by the time they leave primary school.

So how can we break the cycle of ever increasing numbers of cars at school drop off and pick up times? Below are a number of things Sustrans has been involved in with schools and local authorities to help increase safety and the number of children getting to school by bike:

If these measures were put in place we could really see cycling safety and the number of children getting to school by bike increase.