Friday 19 March 2021 is National Ride2School Day. It is an opportunity to promote riding as a healthy and fun way to get kids active. Below, experts explain the importance of the day.
Professor Chris Hickey, Deakin University – “The day provokes us to think about the place of physical activity in our daily lives and the potential value of active transport”
Chris Hickey is a Professor in Health and Physical Education, and Chair of the Academic Board at Deakin University. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Curriculum Studies in Health and Physical Education.
“The importance of National Ride2School Day needs to be read against widespread social concerns associated with profiling of young people characterised by, increasing amounts of screen time and decreasing levels of physical activity,” says Professor Chris Hickey.
“The success of the day is not only measured by the number of young people who ride their bikes or scooters to school, but also in its power as a consciousness-raising event.”
“It provokes us to think about the place of physical activity in our daily lives and the potential value of active transport.”
“Sadly, for many parents the day often brings a realisation that not only does their child not have a functioning bike, but that they probably couldn’t ride it safely if they did.”
“National Ride2School Day reminds parents of the important role they play in giving children the resources to experience the joy of riding a bike, and availing them to a healthy activity that they can benefit from throughout their life.”
Dr Jan Garrard, Deakin University – “The list of benefits of riding to school just keeps on growing”
Jan Garrard is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health & Social Development at Deakin University. Her research interests are in physical activity, active transport, and cycling safety.
“The list of benefits of riding to school just keeps on growing,” says Dr Garrard. “The health benefits of physical activity for children are well-established, as are the environmental, community liveability and transport efficiency benefits of replacing car trips with cycling trips.”
“Think healthier kids, cleaner air, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced congestion, fewer parking hassles and more pleasant, quieter, less car-dominated local environments”
“We can now add improved cognitive performance to this long list. Children who travel actively to school perform better on cognitive tasks for up to four hours after arriving at school compared with children who are driven to school.”
“So, what’s not to like about cycling to school? Parental concerns about traffic safety are a key, but not insurmountable barrier to children riding to school. Good cycling infrastructure, low traffic speeds, a school policy of promoting active travel to school, promotional events such as National Ride2School Day, and even something
as straightforward as installing secure bike racks at school can all assist in overcoming barriers to cycling to school.”
Dr Dean Dudley, Macquarie University – “Social factors are the most important thing”
Dr Dean Dudley is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher of Health and Physical Education at Macquarie University
“The promotion of physical activity in youth should be encouraged by parents, teachers, and broader education stakeholders,” says Dr Dudley.
“Walking or cycling to and from school consistently shows that it makes an important contribution to a young person’s overall physical activity levels, and those students who walk or cycle to school are more physically active than those who are driven by parents or commute via public transport.
“Social factors (such as how close knit the community is in which the families live) and physical environmental characteristics(such as having designated bike lanes and footpaths) are frequently cited as the most important predictors of whether students are likely to actively commute to and from school.”