Inter-school mountain bike competitions, bike maintenance sessions and cycle safety classes. These are just some of the strategies that have helped a Surrey secondary school to increase the number of children who regularly cycle to school from nine to 31 per cent in just three years.
In the process the Royal Alexandra and Albert School in Gatton Park, Reigate, has won a prestigious national award. The 960-pupil school has become the first secondary in the country to be presented with the Gold Sustrans School Mark Award.
The Sustrans Bike It scheme aims to embed a culture of cycling to school – and that’s exactly what staff and pupils at the Royal Alexandra and Albert have done.
Led by maths teacher Ian Rowe, a keen cyclist himself, the school has introduced a host of innovations to encourage cycling.
Mr Rowe began by setting up a group of pupils – dubbed the bike crew – who were keen to get involved in the initiative.
The school built four new bike shelters (housing 45 bikes), handed out maps of safe cycling routes at parents’ meetings, launched after-school cycling clubs, and ran bike maintenance and puncture repair sessions.
Other activities have included a year 9 girls’ cycle ride to a Reigate café for coffee and cake and transition cycling events for year 6 pupils moving to the Royal Alexandra and Albert from local primary schools.
Cycling has also made its mark in the school curriculum. In maths youngsters have looked at how velodrome temperatures affect cyclists’ race times, tutor groups have learned about bike safety, and pupils have been offered the chance to do cycling in PE lessons.
“We have worked hard to increase the number of pupils who cycle to school and are pleased that so many do so regularly,” said Mr Rowe.
“It is great seeing children outside in the fresh air enjoying themselves and doing exercise.”
For more on the schools work of Sustrans, visit www.sustrans.org.uk/our-services/what-we-do/getting-young-people-active CAPTION: Bike boost: Teacher and keen cyclist Ian Rowe with some of the school’s young cycling enthusiasts