Those of you clicking my ukulele links will know that I teach ukulele to primary age school children. Children who learn to play an instrument when they are young benifit from improvements in their literacy and numarcy skills and of course will hopefully develop a life long love of music making.
In Holland they take cycling seriously and it no small surprize that this begins at school. Children who cycle to school benifit from better health, a much safer environment in which to travel and they will also hopefully develop a life long love of cycling.
There is much in common here, learning to play a musical instrument and using a bicycle as a primary means of transport, both make sense. Both provide benefits for health and well-being and can help lead to a more intelligent and cohesive society. Both need to start at school and become an everyday part of life. While music making is part of the National Curriculum and taught to every child, every week, cycling remains an option, with most schools doing nothing, or at best a couple of days training in year six.
Perhaps the biggest issue for children cycling to school is the lack of safe routes.
I read the marvellous blog ‘A view from the cycle path’ by David Hembrow and today saw his video of children cycling to primary school in Holland. The children don’t have to suffer the danger of cars and they are learning to treat the cycle as an everyday means of transport. This is how children in the UK should be getting to and from school. As in Holland, the roads should be cleared of cars to allow the children and their parents safe passage. The car is poisening our society as it stops us experiencing real freedom and makes normal life much more dangerous.
Take a look at the video, it is a real eye opener to anyone who has experienced the car frenzy outside most UK primary schools every morning and evening. Notice also the totally lack of any cycle helmets or lurid yellow jackets as chilcren and adults cycle safely to school!
In the UK Sustrans is claiming to promote ‘Safe Routes to School’. I have checked their website and they don’t seem to have a video showing a UK school with real safe routes. I wonder if this is because real safe routes just don’t exist for UK children. Does anyone know of any?