Let’s encourage our kids to cycle to school

This is the article we submitted for the October edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

If you have a child at Mengham Junior School, they’ll have seen Cycle Hayling run their school assembly at the start of their Bikeability training week.

We were delighted to see so many children walking and cycling to school, and that the school is already ‘Silver’ in the national sustainable travel scheme, Modeshift STARS, modeshiftstars.org.

Please do encourage your children to help the school get to ‘Gold’.

That’s our second school assembly now, and it’s a great way to show kids how much fun they can have cycling, and cycling to school. And it’s a great way for them to get free, healthy exercise, more confidence, and a real sense of achievement.

Every child can do the brilliant Bikeability ABCD checklist – ideally before they need to leave:

  • Air in tyres
  • Brakes and bars tight
  • Chain oiled
  • Dangly bits tidied up.

Do watch this inspiring short video from Sustrans, showing one Primary School’s bike revolution. Wouldn’t it be great if, next year, we could say this could have been made on Hayling!

Who supported the Ride to Work day on September 13? Did anyone local win a prize? 40,000 riders pledged to ride over a million miles to work, burning 34 million calories, and saving themselves nearly half a million pounds, and the planet 230 tons of CO2. If you don’t cycle to work already, why not take it on as a challenge? What route would you take? www.cycletoworkday.org.

Sorry if you missed our Cycle Hayling turbo-challenge at the Three Churches Fete, as our stall was rained-off. But we did sign up quite a few islanders at the Emsworth Show, and several people beat 1,000 metres in 1 minute for the first time ever. That’s equivalent to over 37 mph!

At every stall we run, I guarantee at least one motorist makes a bee-line to tell us they were held up by a cyclist blocking the road, so there’s no point building more cycle paths, as cyclists don’t use them. And if they’re saying it to us, they’re probably saying it to the councillors who are already struggling to find the funding.

The only way to get more and better cycle paths is to prove we’ll use them. By using the ones we have today. I know that sometimes means a detour, and some are downright awful. But please think of the future – use them or lose them!

Talking of cycle paths, Cycle Hayling has applied for funding to improve the link from Saltmarsh Lane to the Billy Trail. Sign up with us if you think that’s a good idea.

We often get asked if it’s still safe to cycle, with increasing air pollution from traffic? Well the latest research shows that cars ventilators tend to suck in raw exhaust fumes from the vehicle in front. But cyclist’s heads are higher, where the exhaust gases have mostly dispersed. So, yes, cycling is still more healthy for you than sitting in a car.

Tip of the month: With darker mornings and evenings, make sure other traffic sees you, with high-vis clothing, reflectors and lights. Lights are cheaper and smaller than ever. We like the tiny USB rechargeable LED lights, in slow flashing mode for greater visibility and longer battery life. Get in the habit of recharging them every time you get home from a ride.