An innovative scheme aimed at getting more pupils on their bikes, which was piloted at schools in Edinburgh, has won the Best Practice in Travel to School and Work scheme in the Scottish Transport Awards.
The 12 schools involved in the I Bike scheme have reported an increase in the number of children cycling to class, as well as a fall in the number of those being driven. Since I Bike's launch, the number of pupils regularly cycling to school has risen from 10.7% to 19.3%, while the number being driven dropped from 23.9% to 17.2%.
Run in partnership by transport charity Sustrans and the City of Edinburgh Council, I Bike was launched in 2009 and is set to be rolled out to more schools across the Capital and to other local authorities following its success.
The programme aims to identify and break down barriers preventing children from cycling at both primary and secondary school level, then uses tailored schemes to encourage them to cycle both to school and for leisure.
Each school involved had a bike crew which leads the project. Schemes included bike and helmet decorating, "hi-viz" days when pupils wore bright clothes to school, and "beauty and the bike", specifically aimed at secondary school girls after Edinburgh University research revealed that older girls are more likely to become less physically active than older boys.
Helping to meet Local Authority objectives; as well as transport agendas, I Bike meets health, sports, leisure, active travel and an array of wider school agendas.
"Congratulations to all of those involved in the I Bike scheme, it is fantastic to see that such an innovative project to encourage pupils to get out of cars and onto their bikes is paying off.
"Regular exercise improves the concentration of pupils in the classroom as well as keeping them fit and healthy. We will continue to work with organisations such as Sustrans to ensure that Edinburgh is as safe a city as possible for cyclists of all ages."
Councillor Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener.
Due to the success of the pilot and with funding from the Scottish Government the project was rolled out to more schools in this last academic year. Further partnership with Edinburgh and Sustrans will see another 10 schools coming on board for the 2012/13 year. I Bike has also extended to Fife and will soon begin in East Dunbartonshire and Dumfries and Galloway.
More information about I Bike is available from Sustrans.