Why don't kids bike to school?

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 09:44 18/03/2014
Kids cycling to school

PEDAL-POWER: Safety fears mean fewer pupils are biking to school.

Professor Simon Kingham
SIMON KINGHAM: Fewer people are commuting by bike than 25 years ago.
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Changes need to be made to make workers and children feel safer biking to their offices or schools, a University of Canterbury cycling advocate says.

Professor Simon Kingham said more people were using vehicles for their daily commute compared to 25 years ago, because they were worried about the safety of biking on busy streets.His comments follow a proposal released by the Green Party last week to spend $200 million on infrastructure to make it safer for children walking or cycling to school. 

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said half of Kiwi children cycled or walked to school in 1989 and only a third came by car.

The numbers had since reversed, with New Zealanders making a quarter of a million car trips every morning, just to drop their children at school.

"In a survey of parents that we conducted, 93 per cent of parents who drive their kids to school said they would prefer for them to walk or cycle, but only if they knew it was safe," Turei said.

Kingham said there needed to be only one junction or point across that road that seemed unsafe for parents to take their car.

"If people feel unsafe, then it is unsafe. We know statistically cycling is not as bad as people perceive it to be. But perception is reality. If they feel unsafe, then it is."

It was also important to consider how older pupils and their friends perceived cycling, he said.

"The whole issue of the helmet comes into it as well. Kids want to get to school looking cool."

Kingham suggested having a drop-off point 500 metres from the school-gate for parents who had to drive their children to school.

The move would help ease congestion around the school entry, he said.

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- The Press

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