Bike riding is one of the real joys in life. You get adventure, fresh air and exercise, as well as all the fun. Yet, the majority of girls tend to stop riding their bikes when they start high school. It makes you wonder why they feel they don’t want to do it anymore. Is it because it’s not “cool’?
Sustrans are a UK charity that want to change the way that girls see riding. They found out that girls are less active as they get older than boys, and more boys cycle to school than girls.
Jump! Mag took 10 minutes to catch up with Tim Warin, a Sustrans School Officer.
Why Should I Keep Cycling?
Riding a bike is fun! It’s also great exercise and is good for the planet. Riding a bike to school helps you get your recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day…one third of children don’t currently achieve this and building cycling into your daily routine can keep you healthy for life. Getting used to riding a bike will build your confidence and awareness and develop your road safety skills. Also, the fewer cars at the school gates; the safer it is for everyone.
Where do I Start?
Give it a go! The feeling of freedom and independence is unique and it often takes less time than you think to travel even quite long distances. Building awareness of the road is key and this can be done as a family or with friends who are more experienced. It’s best to start on quiet routes and get used to how the road works as a family.
What Are Your Top Tips?
Why do More Boys than Girls Cycle?
Although the number of boys and girls who cycle at primary school is roughly equal, we see a massive drop off in girls cycling as they move on to secondary school. One of their key concerns is how they look and I’m a firm believer that all clothes are ‘cycling clothes’ and by taking a steady pace you don’t have to get sweaty. This isn’t the Tour De France, it’s just an everyday trip made by bike and attitudes are slowly changing; 2011 saw the biggest ever increase in the number of women cycling on the National Cycle Network, with women making up a quarter of journeys and in 2012 twice as many women choose to make their journey to the shops by bike as in 2010.
How Can We Get Our School Involved in Promoting Cycling?
This week (9-13th June) is Bike to School Week in UK, and it’s a perfect chance for you to encourage your friends, the staff and other year groups to start cycling to school too. You could ask your teachers to hold a breakfast for cyclists, or run a ‘bling your bike’ session in the playground. Throughout the year Sustrans run events like Bike to School Week for schools which are free to sign up to; check out our website for some brilliant resources, incentive schemes, guides and events to help your school to get active – both inside and outside the classroom.
We’re also running a Campaign for Safer Streets, and are calling on Government to make the school run safer for kids who cycle, walk and scoot to school. So if you want to see more people cycling in and around your school, why not write a letter to your local MP and tell them why you think it’s important. For more information have a read on our website www.sustrans.org.uk
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We are lucky in the western world. We are entitled to a free education until the age of 18. You might not always feel like going to school, but you are able to learn about loads of different topics, which will help you find a job when you are older. Not only that, but school can be great fun too – we bet you have a favourite subject, that you love to learn about.
A lot of children across the world don’t have this opportunity. Sometimes it is because the children are too poor to be able to afford to go to school, and there is no way they can pay for uniform, travel and schoolbooks. Sometimes it is because the government doesn’t provide free education where they live. Sometimes it is simply because they are girls. You might have seen the story of the girls in Nigeria who have been kidnapped, because they wanted to go to school – we are all hoping very much that they are soon home with their families. Now more than ever, it is vital to ensure children can go to school safely.
14-year-old Gabriella told us that her school gives lots of rewards for doing well, or for good behaviour. It got her thinking about reward systems, and if they are a good idea.
I’m sure everyone has been offered a reward for doing the right thing at some point in their lives, whether it has been your parents rewarding you for your actions or teachers at school.
When you are presented with the idea of a reward it makes you want to succeed right? Or does it? I know from personal experience that people aren’t necessarily excited by the prospect of being given a reward and when they are, they are usually set on the reward and not the idea behind it. For example, prizes for winning competitions often attract entries and participants often enter because of the prize and not because they are really interested in the theme of the competition. The same kind if thing comes out of rewards at school.