Payment for cycling to school
Parents in the UK could be paid to get their children to cycle to school rather than take the bus under new plans to help tackle obesity.
Published December 31, 2006 by The Guardian UK
UK — Parents could be paid to get their children to cycle to school rather than take the bus under new plans to help tackle obesity.
The Government said the proposals would improve school transport, cut congestion and encourage children to lead more active lives.
But parents' groups raised concerns over the safety of children cycling up to three miles to school each day, and warned that the payments would "send the wrong message".
According to Government figures, more than one million children will be obese by 2010, and face potentially serious health problems.
Government guidance to councils piloting the new school transport schemes said: "Walking and cycling are likely to improve the health of those travelling on foot or by bicycle, and may well bring environmental benefits from reduced levels of congestion and pollution."
The guidance suggested "a number of allowances and other arrangements" could be used by councils to meet their responsibilities to provide school transport.
Examples included "a cycling allowance paid by the local authority where the parent agreed for their 'eligible' child to cycle to and from school instead of catching a bus for, say a three-mile journey".
Another option would be a "mileage allowance" paid to a parent driving their child to school instead of the local authority arranging a taxi for the child.
Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, raised concerns over the safety implications of the scheme.
"None of us wants children to be obese," she said. "But the safety issue is the real difficulty of allowing children to cycle. Obviously, it is not realistic in cities. If we are to encourage this, we have to educate motorists to be aware."