September is coming! And it’s going to look like a slightly different back to school season this year with new routines and safety measures in place to keep everyone safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  If you can get to school under your own steam, you’ll be doing both your health and the environment a big favour. 

Why walk, cycle or scoot to school?

Walking, cycling or even scooting with your kids along streets, through open spaces and parks, is the best way to reduce risk.  And a walk to school also means that you can improve your physical and mental fitness as part of your normal day.  It’s a win, win all round.

For families living in a rural environment, avoiding public transport or ditching the car completely can be difficult, if you want to make a change you will need to give extra consideration on how you might do that journey on foot or bike safely. If it’s not possible to change your entire journey, you may be able to consider parking further away from school and walking the last leg?

And let’s not forget that the health benefits of an active start are hard to ignore. With almost 50% of children in the UK missing out on the recommended* sixty minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise a day, getting to school on foot or cycle can provide a valuable opportunity to build activity into a daily routine.

Where to start?  If you’re unable to walk, you may find parents in some schools organise a walking bus, collecting and dropping off children at ‘bus stops’.  If there isn’t one, you could consider volunteering yourself.  If you’re thinking about two wheels, watch out for top tips and advice during Bike to School Week from the 28 September.

How to have a more active journey

Whether you walk or cycle or scoot or roller skate, here are a few things to consider to get yourself ready for a new active journey:

  1. Plan your route – it seems obvious, and it might be a journey you have done a thousand times before, but knowing exactly where it is you are going before you set off will help your journey run as smoothly and stress-free as possible. Be sure to take note of things like busy roads and junctions that could come up on your travels and introduce your kids to them beforehand.
  2. Be safe – we know it goes without saying, but accidents do happen so ensure you all have the correct safety equipment no matter how many wheels you are travelling on. If you are a solo adult cycling with children, take up a position at the back so that all children are visible to other road users. And, of course, remember to always maintain 2m from anyone who is not part of your household.
  3. Park and Stride – for those who public transport feels like the only option, consider the Park and Stride Drive to a location 10-15 minutes’ walk away from the school, then walk the rest of the way to help congestion at the gates.
  4. Mix it up – with planning in mind, it doesn’t have to be the same route every day! But you can also try different modes of transport to keep it interesting. We have already mentioned bikes and scooters, but what other wheels do your children enjoy? Keen skateboarder? Excellent! Work it into your morning school run.
  5. Make it fun – you can subscribe to the Sustrans Outside In newsletter for fun activities and challenges to encourage your kids to be more active en route.

So, how will your journeys to school look in a few weeks’ time? We’d love to hear about what your new routine will look like.

Don’t forget to take a look at going back to school – top tips for parents and carers.