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Pushing Pedals: For Half-Term Fun, Test Cycle Your School Run

Published on: 30 May, 2021
Updated on: 1 Jun, 2021

This is a monthly column on local cycling by the Guildford Bicycle User Group (G-BUG). Their vision is to make cycling in Guildford safer, more convenient and fun. Members share a passion for making the borough more accessible through increased cycling.

By Bridie Sullivan

The school run is a great opportunity to fit cycling into your day. And there are lots of ways to campaign for safer cycling routes in and around your local school area.

“I love cycling the school run,” says local parent Julia.

“I love cycling the school run!” says local parent, Julia who wanted to use the morning commute to squeeze some daily exercise into her working week and reduce the family’s carbon footprint with an alternative to driving.

Julia’s story will be familiar. The family’s school run was only 15 minutes by bicycle, but her young children required a trailer. Being able to trial the route before making an investment was crucial. Fortunately, a family friend was able to lend them a trailer so that they could all get on board for a test run before “we bought our own and we haven’t looked back since”.

One of the most frequently asked questions is: “Isn’t it really hard work pulling a trailer with two children in it?’

Adjusting speed accordingly helps to balance out the difficulty levels. Weather conditions are a factor, especially on gusty days. The weight of one child is a lot harder than on still days with two.

The cycle path infrastructure is important, especially with a bike trailer.

Julia’s school run is from Jacobs Well to Burpham along a shared pedestrian and cycle path on Clay Lane and, like many local cycle routes, there are gaps in the paths. Some are too narrow for a trailer, too close to fast-moving traffic or the shared cycle lane comes to an abrupt stop with no signs.

Less confident cyclists are forced to dismount and walk at a number of points on the route. It shows how important it is to get the infrastructure right to make it easier and safer for families to cycle to school.

Sometimes, traffic is too close for comfort.

Research from UWE Bristol this month says getting transport right for young people now, will most certainly have an impact in later life. Young people, 17 years and older, are driving less, have higher insurance costs and lower levels of disposable income. They are more dependant on active travel and public transport.

Without safe, affordable and sustainable infrastructure, young people have fewer means of connecting with others, pursuing personal and professional opportunities, or maintaining good mental health.

A YouGov survey in March ’21 said 49% of UK schoolchildren worry about pollution, up 10% from the year before.

So over half term, test out your school run. Coinciding with this year’s national Bike Week (May 30 to June 4), you can join the World’s Biggest Bike Ride on May 30.

Ask your local school to promote bike to school week (September 27 to October 1). Resources such as posters, daily class activities and a video guide to safety are available.

Follow the School Streets initiatives which give information and guidance on how to empower communities who want to improve their school streets.

And encourage your school to sign up to Modeshift STARS to help them deliver and implement effective travel plans.

Julia’s experience highlights the need to “try before you buy”. Ask your local cycle shop about their schemes and offers.

Zero Carbon Guildford are looking at opportunities to trial electric cargo bikes with local families and businesses.

Please email G-BUG  at and tell us about your local initiatives. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or sign-up here.

Safe Cycling.


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Responses to Pushing Pedals: For Half-Term Fun, Test Cycle Your School Run

  1. Calum Shaw Reply

    June 5, 2021 at 11:07 pm

    I found a tag-along trailer bike worked best for me once my daughter was too big for the child bike seat. She loved being able to help me pedal up the hills – even if the extra power was barely noticeable 🙂 .

    Ask your school about cycling facilities – eg places to leave bikes when you drop-off and pick-up. Children should be able to leave bikes at the school during the day too.

    If you have any problems, make sure you talk to the headteacher, governors or a local councillor.

  2. Nigel Burke Reply

    June 6, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    Well done Julia. I hope the council does something about the deficiencies on the Clay Lane cycle path. Perhaps the Weyside Urban Village development might prompt, and fund, improvements.

  3. Simon Firth Reply

    June 10, 2021 at 8:43 am

    Well done Julia, so good to see.

    As a kid that cycled to secondary school with my friends, I realise it gave me a great level of independence and an awareness of the roads which was a great head start in learning to drive. Cycling to and from school was also my favourite time of the day. The endorphins helped no doubt.

    I later always wished I found a job that was close enough to commute by bike to keep me fit but sadly this never the case and now working from home I look for excuses to get out on the bike to keep active.

    As a parent of older kids, I regret they did not cycle to school, nor learn the more advanced skills that would give them the confidence to navigate the roads safely. As a parent, I take some responsibility but I think schools also need to step up, teaching just the basic of cycling to the younger kids is not enough to get kids to cycle around the car-centric town of Guildford, although we are getting better.

    My perspective of cycling on the pavement has also changed, I see no harm if there are no pedestrians and in locations without proper segregated cycling infrastructure; kids are safer and cars are not held up in any way. And in so many area’s there are no pedestrians, so what better use of the pavement is there when there are no proper cycle lanes.

    How about buying an electric bike to tow/cargo the kids to school?

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