The Government must make safe cycling around schools a priority, following new data that shows the number of children who cycle to school has dropped to just 2 percent, the Green Party said.
The 25 Years of New Zealand Travel: New Zealand Household Travel 1989-2014 report shows that the percentage of children cycling to school has dropped from 12 percent in 1989 to 2 percent in 2014, and the number who walk to school has dropped from 42 percent to 29 percent.
“The Government needs to make safe cycling infrastructure a priority so more parents are able to let their kids cycle and walk to school, as they used to,” Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.
“One in three peak time car trips is education-related so more kids walking or cycling to school has the potential to take 100,000 cars off the road at peak time.
“Walking or cycling to school is a practical way to encourage exercise and combat childhood obesity, and exercise in the morning helps wake up kids’ brains.
“Research shows that every dollar invested in safe cycling infrastructure pays off with benefits worth up to $20 from healthier kids, fewer accidents, fuel savings, lower pollution, and less time stuck in traffic.
“The urban cycleways programme is a good start but much more needs to be done specifically around schools, including traffic calming in local streets, cycle skills training, and simple things like more bike sheds.
“Everyone knows how much freer the traffic flows in the school holidays – if more kids walked or cycled to school it could be like that every day,” Ms Genter said.