Bicycle Network: Parents
Why leave the car at home?
There are many reasons why your children should ride, walk, skate and scoot to and from school.
Children are designed to be active. Physically active children are healthier, happier and more socially connected than children that have more sedentary lifestyles.
In recent decades, changes in Australian lifestyles have led to children getting less exercise in their normal day. In the 1970s, 80% of Australian school children rode or walked to school. Today only 20% of school children get to school by bike or foot, with the rest travelling to school in the back seat of a car.
The Ride2School program aims to get more students riding, walking, skating and scooting to school more often, and in doing so, reverse this trend.
Leaving the car behind has many benefits
- Rates of childhood obesity in Australia are one of the highest amongst developed nations. Around 25% of Australian children are currently overweight or obese, a huge jump from 5% in the 1960s.
- The Australian Department of Health and Ageing recommends children accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Research shows that children that are physically active on their way to and from school are significantly more likely to achieve this recommendation and achieve health benefits as a result.
- Children who walk, ride, skate or scoot to school have higher levels of physical activity and improved cardiovascular fitness compared with children that are driven to school.
Improved social development:
- Being allowed the opportunity to actively and independently travel to school (and beyond) fosters independence and responsibility which in turn builds a child’s confidence, self-esteem and social skills. Building these attributes in our children enhances their ability to meet the challenges encountered during school and beyond.
- In teenagers, self-esteem tends to decline during adolescence. Research has found that being physically active may help youth overcome this difficult period by working to enhance self esteem levels, allowing them to better focus on their studies.
It makes for better students:
- Experts agree that physical activity gained through being independently mobile has been shown to boost academic performance in children and create a greater desire to learn.
- Children who walk, ride, skate or scoot arrive at school with higher concentration levels and a greater ability to take in and understand curriculum. The best results have been seen following exercise.
- Australian school environments are designed to encourage children to reach their full academic potential. Schools that embrace an active travel culture optimise the opportunity for their students to lead healthy lives while developing important life skills and contributing to academic success.
It saves money:
- Cycling provides economic benefit in terms of improved public health, reduced levels of traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reductions in expenditure on transport fuel.
- Leaving the car at home saves the family money in fuel costs.
There are many environmental benefits:
- Walking, riding, skating or scooting to school helps cut carbon pollution.
- Reduces congestion around schools and prevents ‘drop-off zone’ madness.
- Road safety is increased when there are less cars on the street.
- Helps the community feel safer by having more people out and about and more ‘eyes on the street’.
- Strengthens local communities through increased social interactions on streets and within neighbourhoods.