How can we encourage more children to cycle to school?

Around 90% of children have bikes and surveys have shown that around a third would like to cycle to school, yet only a very small percentage do.

It has been proven that when children cycle to school, not only do they become fitter, it also improves their sense of independence and confidence and teachers say it makes them more alert in class. Cycle journeys also mean less car journeys which helps school congestion and the environment. It seems like a win win on all sides, so what is stopping the children from cycling?

Some of the arguments come from parents and are concerns around things such as road safety, a lack of confidence in the skills of their child on the road or that they think it is too far. Children can be concerned about having to carry heavy school bags, cycling in bad weather or where they are able to leave their precious bike when they get to school.

For schools that want to encourage cycling then there are schemes such as Bikeability which have advice, support and strategies ranging from cycling proficiency courses through to competitions and games they can use to engage with children.

Improving facilities is key

What has been recognised is that there is a need for schools to provide the right facilities to encourage cycling and to cope with the additional cycles that a scheme may result in. This means that cycle parking facilities are needed and these should be appropriate for the current and future capacity, the age of children and also the environment.

What to consider when planning your cycle parking?


Cycle parking shouldn’t be tucked out of site. In schools in particular, it should be visible and close to the building or entry point. It shouldn’t be located near to any potential hazards such as an entrance, road or car park.


Security of the bikes and also the children is paramount. It may be that simple stands or racks provide anchor points that children can lock their bikes to, or if greater security is required compounds with access control may be needed. You should consider if access should be restricted at certain parts of the day.

Lighting and even CCTV can also be considered.

Type of facility

This will be determined by a number of factors. The space you have, the number of cycles you need to accommodate and your budget.

Cycle stands are cost effective and are practically maintenance free.

Cycle shelters provide weather protection.

Cycle compounds give added security and allow the monitoring of access to this area. See our case study at Gilberd School which had problems with cycle theft and the dilapidated facilities discouraged children from cycling to school.

Cycle lockers provide the ultimate in security but take up space in relation to the number of cycles stored.

You may also need to consider (especially in primary schools) the increasingly popular use of scooters by children and can install specialist scooter racks.


Marrying what the needs are of your cycle users and your budget will impact on your choice. Discuss this with your cycle parking provider and also consider future developments. Think about ongoing maintenance costs. Make sure the facilities are made from materials that will last such as galvanised steel. Materials such as wood, although aesthetically pleasing do need regular maintenance.

Can your existing facilities be updated rather than ripped out? If you have stands, can you put a shelter over it like we did at Oasis Academy Wintringham

Are there any grants or funding available? Your Bike It Officer should be able to advise on this.

Future Proof

Consider how you will be able to extend the cycle parking provision in the future.

Will the site allow for adding to the cycle parking at a later date? If you think you may want to expand, choose a design that is modular and can be added to easily.

When Lockit-Safe installed a 40 cycle compound into Clifton with Rawdale school in 2005, they found that following a school merger this was no longer adequate so we cleaned, re-clad and moved the original compound and added compound, shelter and rack facilities to accommodate over 200 cycles and 80 scooters.


If you would like to discuss how you can improve the cycle parking facilities in your school, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free site survey and no-obligation quotation.

Call 01472 346 382 or complete our contact form online