|An American style school bus|
Children here predominantly cycle. We were told by a local secondary school teacher than the cycling rate to his school is 100% in the summer, dropping to around 95% in the winter. Some children cycle daily round trips of up to 40 km ( 25 miles ) in order to get to school. and back home.
Children attending primary school also cycle. This video, which I took a few months back when it was -2 C ( 28 F ) shows a normal school run at a primary school. It could have been taken on any day.
This is the result of having infrastructure and a social environment which feels safe enough that people let their children ride bikes to school.
Amsterdam - child cycling under pressure
But wait, what's this article on the right ?
The headline reads "Amsterdam first years not happy cycling". It discusses how in Amsterdam the cycling rate for children in the first year of secondary school has dropped such that just 53% of children in the first year of secondary education cycle to school every day, vs. 89% of children over the entire country.
The reason most given not to cycle is the heavy traffic and the risks due to it.
The article also goes on to say that of those who cycle daily, 43% have fallen from their bikes at some point - mostly by crashing into other cyclists. The low quality of cycling infrastructure in some parts of Amsterdam is part of the reason why.
Why include this piece ? It's the same story as above. A high degree of subjective safety is vital if you want people to ride bikes. Amsterdam appears to many foreigners to be a paradise for cycling, and it has the highest cycling rate of any capital city in the western world. However Amsterdam is not a leader within the Netherlands. The city doesn't have the lowest rate of cycling in the Netherlands, but it most surely doesn't have the highest either. For all its charm (Amsterdam is really a marvelous city for many reasons), conditions for cycling in Amsterdam are not so good as in many of the other cities in this country, and that is reflected in a cycling rate which is lower than it otherwise might be.
|The only "school bus" in Assen is one of a small fleet of|
special buses which can be hired for special events. You can
also choose the British double decker or Indonesian Bedford.
And in the UK ?Instead of looking over the North Sea and taking note, the UK is as ever looking for advice in the opposite direction - across the Atlantic. There is a move with the Yellow School Bus Commission to introduce American style yellow school buses to the UK. This commission is ignoring the factors which make people continue to feel that their children are unsafe on the streets and if successful it will further reduce the opportunity for British kids to get exercise. It will also, of course, cost a fortune. Instead of spending on infrastructure which enables a truly green form of transport, the government will end up buying diesel to power buses and produce fumes on the streets. Should I be surprised that this commission was established and is sponsored by a bus company ? Is this proposal for the benefit of the children or of bus company shareholders ?
Children with disabilities ?
Children with disabilities can't always cycle to school and for them an alternative is provided. To minimise the number of private cars used on the school run, mini-buses are provided which call to each home to pick the child up in the morning and which return again after school. However these minibuses are not available to children who can make their own way to and from school.
The American school bus photo at the top is a public domain image which can be found here. The article is from the ANWB*Auto paper published on the 11th of September.