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Highland cycle to school initiative

Issued: 18 Jun 2007

A cycle to school project co-ordinated by The Highland Council and Healthways has attracted the interest of Sustrans the UK's leading sustainable transport charity that advises the Scottish executive on walking and cycling issues.

The East Ross-based project, aims to raise the profile of cycling in the age group of children moving from primary to secondary school and to encourage them to use their bikes more often on their journey to school.

Edinburgh University's Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit based at Moray House School of Education will be evaluating the project and presenting their findings in a case study to the Executive.

A group of health promoting professionals have teamed up to deliver the cycling project to children moving up to secondary school in Alness and Invergordon. In addition to the Council's Road Safety Officers, and Active School's Co-ordinators the team includes representatives from Ross County Football Club, Ross-shire Healthways Project, local trial biking, cross country and mountain biking celebrities and local cycling shops.

Highland Council's School Travel Co-ordinator, Ailsa Campbell said: "Highland has eight times more children cycling to school than the rest of the U.K., however, when children move from primary up to secondary school the numbers drop dramatically. We want to counteract this trend by showing children the benefits of cycling and the varieties of cycle sports available to them."

During transition week from primary to secondary school, new first year pupils at Invergordon and Alness Academy will be watching a display of trial bike skills by local cyclists Michael Macpherson and David Duffus. Children will then have the opportunity to ask questions during a session with a panel of local cycling celebrities. Magnus Davidson - Junior Cross Country Champion 2006, Dagmar Borrowman - Female Cross Country Champion 2006 and Sam Shaw local competitive mountain biker.

The project is being supported by Ross County football club who are offering free football tickets as an incentive to bring a bike to school during the week.

Healthways Co-ordinator Mark Sharples visited all feeder Primary Schools in advance of the transition week to introduce the project and deliver a cycle helmet safety talk. Mark said: "We are delighted to be participating in this transition week event during which, for the first time active travel has been a key focus point. Its a wonderful opportunity for children to think carefully about their routes to school and change their active travel patterns for the better."

Square Wheels cycle shop of Strathpeffer and Dryburgh Cycles of Dingwall are offering discounted cycle helmets to any child in the transition project.

The project leads on from the ongoing work being carried out by local Active Schools Co-ordinators, Wilma Kelt and Sarah Liebnitz. in promoting active travel.

Highland Council's Roads Safety Officer, Lisa MacKellaich said: "Thanks to the ongoing work of local schools developing their travel plans, pupils now have off-road cycle routes and safer journeys to school. Additional funding by Sustrans has enabled a recent extension of the existing network now linking Invergordon and Alness."

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