This article was published in 2009, in Newsletter 87.
Maya Stratton-Brook is the new Sustrans Bike It Officer. Here she introduces herself and outlines some of the achievements of the Bike It scheme.
I’ve been a keen cyclist for the last ten years, since living in Münster in Germany, Amsterdam, and Ghent in Belgium. During that time, I realised how easy, fun, freeing and exhilarating getting around by bike is and enjoyed the being part of a large cycling community each of those cities offered. I am keen to promote the healthy and environmental advantages of cycling and believe that giving children the tools by which to make a change to their own lives and the world around them is the most important way we will make a difference to the environmental issues that are facing us today. In my spare time, I like to have fingers in lots of pies and take tap dancing, piano and trombone lessons.
I took a year out from work last year, returning to university to complete a Primary PGCE at the University of East Anglia. Before that I was working for Sustrans in the Manchester office, assisting on various projects, including Bike It and Sustrans’ Volunteer Programme.
What am I up to?
I am working in partnership with Cycle Cambridge and, being new to Cambridge, am combining getting to know the area extensively with compiling information about potential Bike It schools. I am looking forward to getting the project rolling in Cambridgeshire schools and finding innovative ways of inspiring children, their teachers and their parents and carers.
Sustrans’ project, Bike It, is one of the UK’s most successful projects in bringing about travel behaviour change amongst our young people by enabling them to cycle to school. Schools are selected for their enthusiasm for cycling and the potential to increase cycling. Bike It is designed to give children the skills and confidence to travel under their own steam, and parents the peace of mind to let them. It is this crucial combination that is at the heart of Bike It’s success – children are willing, but parents are anxious, so building trust over time with parents reaps rich rewards.
The project is now in its fifth year and continues to be a great success story. During the year Sustrans conducted its biggest survey yet of children involved in the Bike It project. At the beginning of the year, whilst 4% of children were cycling every day, no less than 49% of children wanted to cycle to school. By the end of the year the percentage of children cycling to school every day had doubled to 8%, and the number cycling at least once a week had increased from 14% to 26%. Even more encouraging was the change in the number of children who never cycle to school, which dropped from 75% to 55%.
Maya can be contacted on 07501017686 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.