Odense is the third-largest city in Denmark and yet 81% of children ride to school, generally without their parents. Here in Britain, we appear happy with less than 2%.
Children should have the right to travel to school on foot or by bike without facing road danger – of every kind. Sixty nine children were killed and over 6,000 were injured on British roads in 2016, but the danger extends beyond the risk of being run over. Almost one thousand schools in Britain are near roads with harmful levels of illegal pollution.
It’s dire situation that only has a detrimental and immediate effect on our children’s health, but restricts their independence and personal development.
The increasing number of vehicles on British roads and its effect on the travel habits of children continues a vicious cycle – the more traffic there is, the more likely children are to be ferried to school by car. The proportion of 7-10 year olds making their way to school independently hovers at around 15 per cent.
The fact that fewer and fewer children are allowed to cross the road or travel to school unaccompanied is a disturbing trend – everything else being equal, children who get some exercise on their way to school are healthier and perform better academically than those driven to school.
It doesn’t help that in Britain we avoid addressing the root causes of why folk drive rather than walk or cycle. If you believe the results of a recent poll, the reason so few Brits cycle is potholes.
Don’t get us wrong, everyone deserves well-maintained roads, but the Dutch must be kicking themselves. They have spent the last 40 years developing a systematic approach to road danger reduction that’s the envy of the world – perhaps they were wasting their time when all they needed to enable almost a quarter of their population to cycle every day was fill a few potholes.
We need every British city to be like Odense. Transport planners; Don’t be like Britain. Be like Denmark.
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Not only are we Britain’s most ethical insurance company, we campaign for sustainable transport. Sometimes that means protesting until a school gets the zebra crossing they’ve been refused or running 60 roadshows this year to encourage people out of their cars, or fixing bicycles for free. We also launched Green Transport Week and helped establish Car Free Day and Twenty’s Plenty to name just a few. We’ve been campaigning for sustainable transport in this way for over 27 years with the help of people like you. Supporting this work is easy – you simply have to take out insurance with us. Home insurance, cycle insurance, travel insurance and breakdown cover and we take care of the rest. We provide an excellent level of cover while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.