Sandringham School in St Albans says it will suspend children if they’re caught riding to school on the pavement. It has also said that no child will be allowed to cycle to school without a helmet and promised that regular checks will be carried out to enforce the rule.
Current government guidance is that cyclists may ride on the footway, provided they do so considerately.
However, a letter to parents from headteacher Alan Gray states that cycling on pavements has been made a C5 offence – the same rating assigned to racially abusing another pupil.
Concerned father David Stacy tweeted the letter and has since written to the school to object.
Really disappointed with this @SandringhamSch1 - will lead to a) fewer children cycling b) reduced child safety c) more traffic congestion and d) worse pollution. Children should be taught to cycle safely and with care for pedestrians. School could be more robust with complaints pic.twitter.com/uk0cr3vLml
— David Stacey (@staceyzoo) November 9, 2017
Cycling UK Head of Campaigns, Duncan Dollimore said: “In March, this Academy published a School Travel Plan which acknowledged there was significant interest from both children and their parents in students cycling to school, that the school wanted to encourage this and should look at incentives to do so. The same document also referred to parents and residents parking on the road outside the school, blocking the cycling lanes, but that the school was wholly reliant on their goodwill to comply with parking restrictions.
“It really was not difficult. The school could have liaised with the local authority about parking restrictions and enforcement, so that children cycling to school didn’t have to negotiate parked cars on both sides of the road with both oncoming and following traffic in a narrowed lane, as described by parent David Stacy.
“Of course, that might have upset the grown-ups, so instead of applying his efforts to make it easier and safer for children to cycle to school, the headteacher has threatened to ban children from cycling to school, which he can’t do, make helmet wearing mandatory, when that is a matter of parental choice, and impose disciplinary sanctions for pupil’s actions outside of school.”
Stacy told The Hertfordshire Advertiser that teenagers should be taught to be respectful to walkers, getting off or slowing down when passing.
“A cyclist-motor vehicle conflict is significantly riskier than a cyclist-pedestrian one. And now, with fewer children cycling, there will be even more traffic on the road dealing with the resultant extra car journeys.
“Fewer, more dangerous cycling trips; more traffic; more pollution. This does not strike me as being a decision in the best interests of the health and wellbeing of the school’s pupils.”
Gray said: “The welfare of our students is of paramount importance to us and by enforcing these rules more robustly, we are ensuring that all of our students who cycle to and from school do so in a way that is both safe for them and for other travellers.”
Cycling UK is unimpressed. Dollimore said: “Rather than trying to tackle the problem outside his school gates he has implemented measures which are likely to lead children to decide that cycling to school is just too much hassle, because teachers will be checking what they are doing every day at the school gates.
“But at least he will look decisive in the eyes of the local residents, for whom an un-helmeted kid cycling on a footpath is a greater safety concern than the traffic congestion and chaos at school drop-off and collection time.
“Teenage girls who cycle to school are seven times more likely to meet the Government’s recommended levels of physical activity than girls who don’t, but helmet compulsion in Sydney Australia led to a 90% reduction in teenage girls cycling. That’s the sort of unintended consequence that this type of ill-thought out policy, placating local residents, can lead to.”