Cycling Rotherham children set off a chain reaction

St Thomas C of E School National Bike Day Training'Natalie Whelan teaches the children how to look after their bikes
St Thomas C of E School National Bike Day Training'Natalie Whelan teaches the children how to look after their bikes
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DOZENS of youngsters saddled up to ride to lessons as part of a bid to reduce the number of parents driving their children to school.

A third of pupils got on their bikes - with parents swapping the car to walk alongside - for an awareness day at St Thomas CE School in Kilnhurst, Rotherham.

The school was promoting healthy and sustainable travel as part of a project with charity Sustrans to help children ride to school regularly.

But it also aims to make a long-term difference to cut the number of parents parking outside the school and causing problems on a morning.

The South Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership’s It’s Your Child campaign, backed by The Star, aims to cut down on irresponsible parking outside schools.

Headteacher Gill Ramsay said: “Like any school there are always problems with parking around school. Part of this is trying to raise the awareness of biking to reduce the number of cars at that time to make biking even safer.”

Inspector Ian Stubbs, who is leading the It’s Your Child campaign, added: “Clearly as part of the campaign we are running I would encourage anything that encourages children to use other methods of getting to school than the car.

“It is good for children’s health and it also reduces the number of casualties around schools.”

St Thomas is signed up to be a Bike It school - a cycling project from Sustrans.

New bike racks to keep cycles safe and a biking policy are also in the pipeline.

During the awareness day youngsters had their bikes checked over for safety and also enjoyed a healthy breakfast.

Ms Ramsay added: “I honestly expected there would be two of us sat there with a cup of tea and a healthy breakfast but we had 42 bikes and a lot of parents who were walking with their child.

“There must have been about a third of the school who turned up on their bikes.

“The response from parents and children have been great so it was a very positive event in a number of ways.”

Sustrans is working with Rotherham schools to give children the skills and information to cycle to school regularly.

Its work is funded by Rotherham Council and the South Yorkshire Local Transport Plan.