Housewife and mother-of-two Jenny Wilson thought her best friend had gone mad when she suggested taking their children to school on bicycles.
For one thing, Jenny was not keen on leaving the comfort and warmth of her car to brave the British weather, but a far greater concern was the safety of her children when negotiating the heavy traffic in her home town of York.
“I have two daughters, Hannah, who’s 11, and Rebecca, who’s nine,” said Jenny. “The local primary school is less than a mile away, but I had always dropped off and collected the girls by car.
I shared the school run with my best friend, who lives only a few doors away and has a boy in Rebecca’s year.”
“One day, out of the blue, my friend asked how I would feel about doing the school run on bicycles. I must admit, at first I was convinced she had flipped her lid.
It wasn’t the distance that worried me, because we are all quite outdoorsy and fairly fit. In fact, we do a lot of cycling as a family at weekends and on holidays, but we tend to be fair weather cyclists and if it’s wet find something else to do instead.”
A Fantastic Idea
“The thought of ploughing through puddles in driving rain was far less appealing, but my main concern was the safety of the girls on the busy roads. I would have dismissed the suggestion out of hand had it not been for the reaction of the girls, who both thought it was a fantastic idea.”
“So I sat down with my friend and we worked out a route that managed to avoid most of the major, busy roads. It meant we would be travelling a little further, but it was still less than a mile each way.
Then all of us – adults and children – went for cycle training, and this was one of the best moves we could have made.”
“The training covered all aspects of cycling, from the theory of on-road cycling, to signalling, looking behind and overtaking parked vehicles.
We’re blessed, in that all the children are sensible and well aware of the dangers posed by the roads, yet we all still gained a lot of confidence from the course.”
“We had a trial run one weekend and it was a lot of fun. When we took the plunge and ditched the car in favour of our bikes on a school day we encountered only one problem – we arrived at the school far too early.
The trip didn’t take us nearly as long as we had thought it would and, in fact, now that it is a regular part of our routine, we find we’re just as quick on our bikes as in the car because we can avoid all the traffic jams.”
“To be honest, it can be a bit of an effort on cold, wet mornings, but we all know that the weather isn’t the best in this country and our attitude is ‘let’s just get on with it’. I’m glad that the girls are getting more exercise and it helps me keep fit too.”
“The girls feel they are doing their bit for the environment by leaving the car at home and it has saved us a bit of money as well.
My husband has suggested that we could now make do with just one car instead of two, which would save us even more money, but I need a bit more time to think about that one.”