Monday, 12 June 2017

The Big Shift at Dulwich College

Across Dulwich College’s five schools we made a dedicated effort in the second week in May to change the way we travelled to school, following the SUSTRANS blue print of ‘The Big Shift’ – an active shift towards more active and sustainable travel.  All staff and boys were asked to make a pledge to make a conscientious effort to change during that week.  It was recognised that many families couldn’t change their means and route to school (as they have to use the Foundation Coach Service or lived too far away) so they were equally valued if they managed to change their travel over their weekend. The pledges for more sustainable and active travel have rolled in and lots of boys have walked and cycled to school over the course of this week (see pledge wall photo here). Such is the commitment that one boy, who lives very close to the school and who normally walks, said that he became more active by 'sprinting' to school instead.

In addition to the pledges we had a number of other events to promote better ways of coming to school and travelling.  In the Junior School and at DUCKS we had a  Bike Breakfast which allowed any boy who had made a difference in their travel to enjoy a pain au chocolat and an orange juice. For example there were many stories of boys cycling with their parents, car sharing, taking the bus, and walking to football club!

At DUCKS there was a bikeability programme for young riders and Dr Bike came to repair and tune the children’s bikes.   Also all the boys in Year 6, and many from the rest of the school, attempted the Rollapaluza static bike racing event. A wonderful burst of 15 – 20 seconds of energy (actually feels a lot longer than you think!) which is the equivalent of racing 250m – i.e. once round a velodrome. There were prizes for the first three boys in each year group.  Also there was a puncture repair competition (the fastest being 1 min 14 seconds!).

We had the Met Police bring in an HGV to show the boys about sight lines from a lorry cab to help cyclists and pedestrians as part of their Exchanging Places programme. They also brought their bike-marking team to help register lots of the boys’ bikes - 29 were done in all.
In several assemblies across the school, Jem Stein from Bike Project talked to the boys about his project of donating bikes to refugees.  By the end of the week 24 bikes had been donated.

Finally, in assembly at DUCKs and the Junior School we heard from 20 year old Abi Von Twisk who grew up training at the Herne Hill Velodrome and is now a professional cyclist with the DROPS pro team. She talked about how she became a professional, the sorts of racing that she does and what life as a professional cyclist with warm weather training in Australia feels like.

Friday, 9 June 2017

National Clean Air Day: June 15th

June 15th is National Clean Air Day.

Schools, communities, businesses and individuals can all take part.  Pledge to leave the car at home for the day to reduce the amount of pollution you create and join the movement.

The website ( has free toolkits available for download that schools can use to encourage their pupils to make clean air pledges.

The day is supported by various public health authorities across the country and is well worth getting involved in. We at SRS very much support all clean air initiatives, knowing how badly air pollution affects children's health.

The link to the schools toolkit is here.

Please do tweet us any images you have of school pledges made as part of #NationalCleanAirDay as we'd love to know what changes you'd make.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Policy Exchange Symposium

Amy and I attended a Public Policy Exchange Symposium on boosting cycling activity and improving safety on Thursday 16 March. Below, I have attempted to share a little of what we took away from the day.
The morning commenced with an introduction for the Chair, Adrian Lloyd, who is Associate Director of Phil Jones Associates and has had over 20 years consultancy experience in developing strategies and infrastructure to encourage walking and cycling.
Roger Geffen, Policy Director of Cycling UK was first to talk. He gave a brief outline of Cycling UK’s work and then went on to talk about attracting funding and support for local cycling. He gave details about the exiting Cycling Walking and Investment Strategy (CWIS) which is a Government strategy to create a walking and cycling nation through planning, investing and building infrastructure to generate a behaviour change with the ambition to normalize walking and cycling by 2040. He then went on to discuss the need for protected spaces and other cycling road safety initiatives as well as a need for national design standards for active travel.
Next to speak was Richard Owen, Operations Director of Road Safety Analysis. He clarifyed the statistics behind safety in numbers for cyclists in England and demonstrated the relationship between cycling risk and cycling levels. (The cycling exposure or level = number of cyclists per 1,000 population and cycling risk = proportion of casualties out of cycling exposure.) Cities where there was good infrastructure and high levels of cycling i.e. Cambridge and York had low levels of crashes whereas cities such as Liverpool and Bolton which have low levels of cycling and lacking in infrastructure have more accidents. These statistics help inform considerations when designing cycling strategies.
Andy Summers, Cycling Strategy and Planning Manager for Transport for London, gave a very interesting presentation about promoting the benefits of cycling and highlighting the advantages of cycling for our health, the environment and the economy. London’s population is set to increase by 2030 to 11 billion people with a large increase in traffic congestion. 19.8 million trips are made by London residents each day and 13 million of these are by motorised modes. 8.17 million journeys could potentially be made by cycling which would counter the future traffic increase due to population growth. It would also help the promotion of local business, global investment from companies who admire the new London cycling infrastructure, not to mention the enormous health benefits with exercise as pollution reduction and cost reductions to the NHS for treating illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression as well as many other ailments.
Andy advised when tackling the misconceptions or myths about negative impacts of local cycling infrastructure changes or schemes it is important to have statistical analysis, images and evidence and be able to monitor and benchmark behaviour changes with a baseline. It is more helpful to call schemes ‘healthy streets’ without such an emphasis on cycling and more on the overall positive environmental impact of the change to the community. Andy kindly shared the TfL document, 'A Better Southwark' with us and it is available to download here.
After lunch Dr Robert Davies, Chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, gave a talk about close passing policing and the policing we need. Close passing policing was introduced by the West Midlands Police in 2016 who are and award winning Police Force for their education of motorists about the safe width for overtaking clearance of 1.5m. This is helping to educate and inform a cultural change about the need to consider cyclists as road users. He explained there is a need to challenge the background assumptions of a car-centric culture i.e. driving is seen as normal and cyclists as a problem or hazardous.
 Dr Robin Lovelace from the School of Geography, University of Leeds, demonstrated the Propensity to Cycle Tool (see, a nationally scalable interactive online mapping application (Lovelace et al. 2016). This tool models sustainable transport uptake and visualizing transport futures.
Xavier Brice from Sustrans showed us, with his presentation, the positive impact of community engagement, individual behaviour change and changing the built environment to the benefit of local communities with sustainable travel initiatives. By working in partnership with the community and empowering individuals to have an influence in local infrastructure issues, it can create higher cycling and walking, improve safety,  reduce traffic and enhance the local environment.  
Last to speak was Dr Steve Melia from the University of West England. Steve is a Senior Lecturer in Transport and Planning. His talk was about creating an environment which encourages cycling, redesigning roads, streets and communities. He felt the key principles of infrastructure in successful cycling cities (and countries) were: Effective three way segregation on main roads with priority for cyclists over side roads. Filtered permeability. Joined up continuous networks. Consistent design standards, continuous improvement replacing ineffective compromises.
As you can see from the abundance of information provided during the day, there was much discussion and sharing of information. Amy and I left having found the day fascinating and came away full of ideas, interesting material and statistics that we hope we can put into good use with Dulwich and Herne Hill Safe Routes to School initiatives.

Image used with permission. Transport for London, Healthy Streets for London (2017)
Polly Twisk, DUCKS Executive Assistant and Registrar

With thanks to the Dulwich Society for their generous support in funding our places

Highlighting the advantages of cycling