SCHOOLS across Dorset and the rest of the South West have been invited to take part in the 2019 Bike to School Week.

Organised by Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, and supported by the Bikeability Trust, Bike to School Week, which will run from September 23 to September 29, is a national initiative celebrating cycling to school and the benefits of travelling actively for children.

James Cleeton, England Director South at Sustrans, said: “Bike to School Week is a great way to show the benefits of cycling to school for children across the South West and to promote the positive impact that an active lifestyle can have on children’s wellbeing and overall health.

“We’re calling on schools in the South West to take part, use the new resources and inspire children and parents to travel actively to school. We also hope Bike to School Week will send a clear message to the UK government to prioritise a safer and more pleasant environment for children to walk and cycle to school.”

Current figures show that only two per cent of primary school children in England currently travel to school by cycle. This is a stark contrast to cycling levels elsewhere such as in the Netherlands, where cycling is the main mode of transport for 49 per cent of primary school children. These figures suggest that more needs to be done in the UK to make cycling an easy, safe, and appealing option for travelling to school.

Bikeability courses are also available at Kings Park Cycle Centre during the Autumn and over the October half term for any child between ten and 18 looking to do their Level 1, 2 or 3 courses. The courses are free of charge as they are funded by the Department of Transport.

BCP Councillor Andy Hadley, cabinet portfolio holder for Transport and Infrastructure, said: “At BCP Council we are keen to support active travel options, walking or cycling to school or your place of work as a great way to save money, to reduce carbon emissions, congestion on our local roads, and to stay fit and healthy.

“We offer a series of free Bikeability courses for children aged 10 and over. Encouraging more children to take up cycling, these proficiency courses are open to young people from across the BCP area and help children to build the skills and confidence they need to ride a bike safely on the road. We also offer Bikeability courses to all schools and you can check with your child's school to see if they will be providing it.

“I would also ask everyone driving to remember to give plenty of space when passing those on bikes, especially children going back to school. Those who are cycling are reducing the number of queueing cars and simplifying journeys for their parents. A few seconds consideration goes a long way.’’