Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Back to school

"So as another school year begins with this amazing sunshine, my 13 (nearly 14 but looks 16) year old daughter is cycling off to school desperate to cycle on the roads - but yet again as she reaches Dulwich Village - it seems to be impossible with the amount of traffic and no cycle lanes - and I definitely do not want her overtaking into oncoming buses - so yes she still seems to be on the pavement in certain places."

My own children value the independence and freedom of biking to school and enjoy the fact that it's three times quicker than taking the bus (precious extra time in the mornings). But it can feel a bit lonely. Few of their friends are allowed to cycle, so having a bike and socialising after school don't always go together - on Fridays the bikes tend to stay at home.  

We are thrilled that Tim Warin continues to work his Bike-It magic in local schools, adding four additional East Dulwich primaries to his portfolio this term: Heber, Goodrich, St Anthony's and Dog Kennel Hill. He gently introduces children and their families to the fun and practicality of bikes, and starts to build positive lifetime habits for independent active travel. Gradually this helps a few more families to realise it really is ok - and can be a joy - to leave the car at home a bit more often for local journeys. 

Tim is a fantastic addition to schools he works with. We look forward to more children being encouraged to discover how quick and easy it can be to get around by themselves. And more parents (and schools!) being encouraged to let them. 

But to achieve a dramatic reduction in the congestion, pollution, stress and danger caused by our school run, riding a bike needs to look like a normal, comfortable and attractive alternative for everyone, not just the pioneering few. There are some streets where current road layouts and traffic volumes mean this is not a realistic option. Most parents do not want their children cycling along the South Circular while a lorry hurtles past, or trying to weave through traffic jams in Dulwich Village. And it's not always possible to find an alternative route through mellow backstreets or parks.  

Elsewhere in London, TfL has bold proposals to create real space for cycling, for instance by reallocating a whole lane of general traffic to bikes, or removing coach parking spaces to create a bike lane. We welcome the principle of reallocation of space and encourage positive responses to consultations on London's North-South and East-West Cycle Superhighways. You can show your support by signing the LCC petition. We will continue to push for meaningful changes in our patch too.