Bike initiative pays dividends in Midlothian

There has been a slight increase in the number of children travelling actively to school.
There has been a slight increase in the number of children travelling actively to school.

Research from Sustrans Scotland has revealed that the number of pupils travelling actively to school has increased in schools across Midlothian, where its I Bike programme is delivered – bucking a national trend.

The findings, from Sustrans’ 2015-16 I Bike Report saw 2.7 per cent increase in children walking, cycling or scooting to school after a year, following engagement from its I Bike programme that year.

The rise goes against a national decline in active travel to school, revealed by the annual Hands Up Scotland Survey last month. The official statistic showed that active travel to school had fallen for the second year running, from 50.4 per cent of pupils in 2014 to 49.2 per cent of pupils in 2016.

Sustrans’ I Bike programme was established in Midlothian in 2015. The project delivers a tailored and structured programmed of cycling related activities in seven schools across the area which are designed to increase the number of pupils cycling to school and in their leisure time.

And, findings from the report shows the project has been successful in meeting its aims.

As well as increasing active travel to school, the programme also saw a 10.2 per cent increase in the number of pupils sometimes cycling to school after one year and a 7.3 per cent rise in the number of pupils walking to school in 2015-16.

Meanwhile, after one year of engagement, the number of pupils being regularly driven to school fell by 6.8 per cent whilst the number of girls sometimes cycling to school rose by 8.6 per cent.

Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf said: “Since I Bike was established eight years ago as a pilot project in Edinburgh and Perth it has expanded to a further 10 local authorities and has brought cycling skills and confidence to hundreds of pupils up and down the country.

“Parents, children and teachers have embraced I Bike as a means of tackling the school run, improving children’s concentration and their overall health and this report shows that the hard work is bringing results.

“Investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, training and road safety projects through stakeholders such as Sustrans Scotland and local authorities increased in the last Parliamentary session and Our Programme for Government stats that we will continue at this record level.”

Lynn Stocks, Sustrans Scotland I Bike manager, added: “We are really proud of the work of all our officers and partners, who develop tailored and structured programmes of cycling related activities in each of our schools.

“These findings highlight the importance of schools being involved in active travel initiatives, such as I Bike, so more children walk, cycle, scooter or skate to school.

“It is essential that we continue to build on the success of our work to date into the new school term, so that we can help create and encourage healthy travel habits which can last a lifetime.”

Sustrans Scotland’s I Bike programme is funded by Transport Scotland and matched funded by Midlothian Council.