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Changes needed to make biking to school safer

Changes need to be made to make biking to work or school safer

March 18, 2014

Many office workers and children do not feel safe biking to work or school and changes need to be made, a University of Canterbury (UC) cycling advocate says.

Professor Simon Kingham says compared to 25 years ago more people are getting a ride to work or school because they are concerned about the safety of biking on busy city streets.

Professor Kingham was commenting on the Green Party’s proposal to spend $200 million to make it safe for children to walk or cycle to school.

``If people feel unsafe, then it is unsafe. We know statistically cycling is not as bad as people perceive it to be. But perception is reality. If they feel unsafe, then it is.

``Secondary school children generally go further and walking is not an option. But cycling becomes the option then. Most primary school children do not have far to go and, historically, parents would have let them walk. Nowadays, they don’t. Parents don’t think it is safe enough.

``All it needs is one junction or one point across the road that seems unsafe then parents will take their car. But it is really healthy for children to cycle to school.

``It’s also important to consider how older students feel about cycling and how their mates see it. A lot of students are preferring to walk than cycle. The whole issue of the helmet comes into it as well.
Kids want to get to school looking cool.

``Stranger danger is also an issue. We know it is more dangerous than it was 30 years ago but safety is the key issue for children biking to school.

``If parents have to drive their children to school, why don’t we have a drop-off point 500 metres from school, rather than have congestion around the school gate,’’ Professor Kingham says.


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