Record-breaking round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont has given his backing to an initiative designed to get drivers to give Scottish children the space they need to cycle to school in safety, yesterday helping to launch the Give Me Cycle Space campaign at St Mark’s School, Barrhead, East Renfrewshire.
"Campaigns like this are essential because you have to understand that a lot of road users aren't cyclists so they're just not aware of what they need to do on the road to act differently around a bicycle as opposed to a car,” explained Beaumont, quoted on STV.
That was especially the case when the cyclist was a child, he continued, “because they are just learning to use their bikes and going through their cycling proficiency, so doing their first miles to and from school is absolutely perfect to get experience.”
The six-week campaign, co-ordinated by Cycle Scotland, coincides with the annual upsurge in the number of pupils using their bicycles to get to and from school thanks to warmer and drier spring weather and longer hours of daylight.
It is focused on seven areas across Scotland - Glasgow, Inverclyde, Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, Moray, Perth and Kinross, and East Renfrewshire, with schools in each area being visited by stunt cycling team, The Riderz, Scotland's stunt cycling team.
At yesterday’s launch, six primary school pupils joined Beaumont, holding banners saying “Give us at least 1.5 metres" and "We want to cycle to school".
"We're trying to highlight the opportunity to stay healthy, get active and stay safe on the roads,” Beaumont went on. "I think it's massively important, I'm really passionate about this - I grew up in Scotland cycling from an early age and it's something that I've grown to love.
"I know how important it is to stay healthy and I know how much of a social activity it is as well. But you can only do that if the roads are safe and other road users give children plenty of space, it gives them more confidence and just looks after them.
"To get to school safely the kids need to have other road users giving them plenty of room on the roads, making sure they have confidence to cycle with their friends and families," he concluded.
Ian Aitken, chief executive of Cycling Scotland, commented: "The Give Me Cycle Space campaign achieved incredible results last year, contributing to huge increases in the number of children cycling in the schools we targeted.
"In some areas we saw levels of cycling to school double, for example in Orkney the percentage of kids riding their bikes to school rocketed from 9% to 18%.
"I think the mixture of strong communication to drivers, supported by children getting their Bikeability Scotland training, really gives parents the confidence to let their kids start using their bikes to get to school," he added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.