School defends anti-cycling policy

A deputy headteacher today defended a decision to actively discourage children from cycling to and from school.

IPSWICH: A deputy headteacher today defended a decision to actively discourage children from cycling to and from school.

St Helen's Primary in Woodbridge Road has advised pupils against riding their bikes to the site while cycle racks, other than those for the use of staff, have been removed.

Deputy headteacher Martin Jarvis said governors had made the decision due to the school's setting.

“We would love to encourage children to cycle to school but given our location in Woodbridge Road, between 8.30am and 9am on a weekday it's not a safe environment for a young cyclist.”

He said the decision would be reviewed after students in years five and six complete cycling proficiency training.

Mr Jarvis said St Helen's was already an accredited healthy school.

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A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said it encouraged everyone to travel to school in a “sustainable” way whenever possible.

The spokeswoman said St Helen's had the highest percentage of pupils that walked to school in the whole of Suffolk - around 80 per cent.

However, Suffolk Green Party's John Matthissen said discouraging children from riding their bikes to school was a step in the wrong direction.

He said: “It absolutely runs against the grain of where we need to be going over the next decade or two. Where can you park your bike if you can't leave it securely on school grounds? It's effectively stopping it.

“We know that we have to get more children - more people - cycling and walking and this is going in the wrong direction.”

Mr Matthissen said that if there was a traffic safety issue around the school, the council should be seeking to address this, rather than discouraging children from riding their bikes.

He added: “We really don't want this to develop into a trend. The council and schools have got to be big enough and bold enough to entertain that slight risk - the problem is that we have an insurance mentality that pervades areas of life and it's gone too far.”

Should children be encouraged to cycle to school? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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