The rates of walking and cycling to school have dropped dramatically in this country over the last 30 years as now more parents drive their children to school. The consequences have been significant in terms of heath and well being. As governments struggle to implement measures, that try to get more children active, I believe a quick history lesson is all that is needed along with some change in policy and more investment in infrastructure.
The rates for active transport of primary school children in the Netherlands, are that ,49% cycle ,37% walk and only 14% are brought and collected by car. This sadly would be the reverse Australia and in most Australian cities today. This is also the same for the United States.
This graph would mirror Australia with the only difference a possibly higher rate of cycling and walking to school in the 1970's. Which was between 70 & 80% and a slightly lower obesity rate.
Some schools in the ACT would be lucky to have more than 20 to 30 bicycle 's in there school bike racks these days. This with school population numbers at 350 to 400 students. Even at high schools the numbers are low. This was certainly different a few decades ago..............
|Late 1960's Canberra school bike parking|
Yet figures have stayed about the same in the Netherlands .There is a real focus on traffic safety and bicycle proficiency with cycle training and testing of Year 6 students before they start high school.
What you see in this video is the use of cycle gardens , a miniature scale of traffic environments .These are used in many European countries to teach children road rules and traffic safety while riding a bicycle.
This is something that we use to do in Canberra with the Traffic training centres located at Deakin and Belconnen . I took some photos recently of the closed Beleconnen site.
A consultant for the Aus. Federal Police who use to run these sites recommended that these artificial environments are not good for children to learn road rules apparently. Though nothing has been implemented to fill the gap on cycle training and road rules training. A private organization has taking it upon themselves to provide cycle education for children, though at only one location it is only a small proportion of the population.