In the Dutch town of Woensdrecht only one in five children is allowed to cycle to school. Many elementary schools still uphold a so-called bike perimeter: children living within the perimeter are only allowed to cycle to school by special permission of school authorities. The town council feels expansion of parking facilities is therefore highly advisable.
Positive sounds emanate from Den Haag, where the Biesieklette organisation - originating from a make-work project - manages 13 bicycle parking facilities at secondary schools. According to local authorities this is a huge success. ‘There is a clear increase in the number of bikes. And moreover the quality of bikes used is increasing as well,’ according to a spokesman. Local authorities provide the units for parking. Biesieklette is paid by school management. These will sometimes pass on the charges to the parents. Local authorities do not mind expanding the project to include elementary schools. But in Den Haag these number several hundred, and travel distances are usually shorter than in secondary schools. ‘On the other hand you can also see many children are ferried by their parents by car, which is not ideal either. In addition there is of course the issue of the quality of bike routes.’
That is also one of the spearheads in English bicycle policy. Sustrans encourages local authorities to invest heavily in safer school routes and to use for this purpose the ₤17 million available from the Links to Schools programme which is part of ₤140 million announced earlier this year by the Department for Transport to promote cycling.
The Links to Schools programme will extend the National Cycle Network, bringing it closer to schools and, by joining up residential areas to schools, make it easier for young people to walk or cycle. It is expected that more than 700 schools will directly benefit via funding to 300 schemes.