Support for schools to provide bikes and improve cycle parking

27 September 2023    

- Over 3,500 young people in the Highlands already benefitting from improved cycling facilities

- Lisa (P7 pupil): “There is somewhere safe to keep my new bike I got for my birthday. I am really excited to be cycling with my friends”

Young people across the country are finding it easier to cycle to school thanks to support from their schools, local authorities and Cycling Scotland, the national cycling charity.

Schools and local authorities have been able to provide a range of new facilities, including installing secure, covered bike parking.

Since last year, more than £1.1m, funded by Transport Scotland’s active travel budget has been allocated to 161 schools across the country and 23 local authorities. Almost 60,000 pupils are set to benefit from the new facilities.

From Thurso to the Isle of Skye, Arisaig to Inverness, over 3,500 children and young people across the Highlands are now finding it easier to cycle to school with new cycle facilities that have been provided by Scotland’s national cycling charity.

Using funding from the Scottish Government’s active travel budget, which is managed by Cycling Scotland, Highland Council has provided covered cycle shelters at 14 schools across the region.

Cycle data from the Highlands shows that:

  • Over 7% children normally cycle to school, the second highest area in Scotland [1]
  • Cycling accounts for 6% of all journeys, the highest in the country [2], with 17% adults usually or regularly cycling to work [3]
  • 58% of households have access to one or more bikes, the third highest local authority [4]

Cycling Scotland funded £74,000 to the Highland Council Road Safety Team, which was match-funded by the council to install six shelters at primary schools and four scooter pods. The bike parking means that pupils can safely lock their bikes during school hours, encouraging more young people to travel to by bike.

Emma Garden, Bikeability Scotland Co-ordinator in the Highland Council Road Safety Team said: “Being able to access the fund to match our Safer Routes to School funding has allowed the Highland Council Road Safety Team to provide more schools with a cycle shelter this past year. The shelters are used regularly by pupils cycling to school and taking part in Bikeability Scotland training, giving them safe, accessible storage while in school, and schools are already seeing an increase in the number of pupils cycling to school too, which is hugely positive”.

Lisa, a P7 pupil said: “Now our school has its new bike shelter I am allowed to cycle to school every day, there is somewhere safe to keep my new bike I got for my birthday. I am really excited to be cycling with my friends”.

Katharine Brough, Head of Grant Funding & Partnerships, at Cycling Scotland, explains: “A bike is a treasured possession – in many cases, a present given for Christmas or a birthday – and can hold huge emotional as well as financial value. Secure bike parking makes it easier to cycle to school and provides reassurance that a bike will be safe throughout the day.

“Travelling to school is one of the earliest regular trips a child will take. Making it easier for parents, carers and young people to cycle not only helps them to connect home and school in a sustainable, affordable and enjoyable way, but can inspire positive travel behaviours that last a lifetime. 

“There are many steps needed to support more children to cycle to school: secure and accessible bike parking is vital, as well as safer roads, a network of dedicated cycle paths and delivering Bikeability Scotland, the national cycle training programme for school children.” 

Minister for Active Travel Patrick Harvie said: “I’m pleased that a further 60,000 pupils, right across the country, are now benefitting from improved cycling facilities and bike parking at school.

“Over the past year, more than £1 million from the Scottish Government has supported Cycling Scotland’s work to make it easier for young people to choose to cycle to school – storing their bikes in a safe and secure way.

“It’s one part of the revolution in active travel we are starting to see. Better facilities are of course important, but safer infrastructure and cycling lanes are paramount. That’s why the Scottish Government has committed to invest £320 million in active travel.”

Local authorities and schools looking to support more young people to cycle are encouraged to get in touch to discuss requirements. Up to £25,000 is available for individual applications, and local authorities can receive support for multiple sites.

Funding is available for local authorities and schools to:

Information on cycle parking can be found here: guidance for school cycle storage.

[3] Transport & Travel in Scotland 2020 and 2021 (Transport Scotland)