Page last updated at 23:09 GMT, Monday, 5 May 2008 00:09 UK

Parents 'stop children cycling'

Joanne Preston, with her children doing Bikeability
Most parents thought cycle training would help

Parents' fears about road safety are turning children into a lost generation of cyclists, says a government-backed agency that promotes cycling.

Four out of five children are banned from cycling to school by their parents, a poll of 1,079 parents for Cycling England suggests.

This compares with the 35% of parents who were allowed to bike to school when they were children themselves.

Launching Bike to School Week the group said road accidents are declining.

The survey found 81% of parents ban children from cycling independently.

This was creating a new breed of "cul-de-sac kids" restricted to cycling only in their own road and neighbouring streets, Cycling England warned.

Concern about safety is understandable, but we need to remember that on-road accidents are in long term decline
Philip Darnton
Cycling England

The biggest reason why parents did not let their child cycle on the road was concern about safety - but only 3% knew someone who had been in an accident.

In 2006 there were 10 times more accidents involving cars than there were accidents involving bicycles.

Most parents said cycle training would make them feel more reassured about their child cycling without any adult supervision.

And some two-thirds said they felt their child did not have the confidence and skills to ride on the road.

Although three-quarters of children are allowed to cycle for recreation at the weekend or after school, only one in five is allowed to use his bicycle as a way of getting from one place to another.

More than half of the same parents said they had regularly used cycling as a way of getting around as a child.

Cul-de-sac

Chairman of Cycling England Phillip Darnton said: "This research underlines the important role of cycling training in giving children the skills and confidence they need to cycle on the roads - and in giving parents the reassurance that their child is well equipped to do so.

"Concern about safety is understandable, but we need to remember that on-road accidents are in long term decline.

"Every parent will want to ensure their children are kept safe, but they can't live out their lives within the shadows of the cul-de-sac, never able to venture further away from home," he added.

Cycling to school or with friends could have a positive role in developing a child's independence, he said.

Cycling England runs bicycle training schemes and a new proficiency scheme known as Bikeability.

Mr Darnton is urging more schools to come forward and offer the training as part of the push to get more youngsters cycling.




SEE ALSO
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