Webinar report: How can local authorities get more children cycling to school?

uploaded on 22 February 2024

Recently we hosted a fascinating webinar and virtual roundtable to support the launch of Select Home to school – the new scheme we’ve created with Halfords to help councils provide families with affordable, healthy and sustainable travel to school by bike.

We were delighted to present the event alongside Beth Morley from Transport for West Midlands, who shared some fascinating insights from the research her organisation is doing in this key area. Several other local authorities attended and added their views on the barriers to change and how they can be overcome.

Here’s what we learned, along with some tips on how you can find out more to develop your plans to make travel to school more sustainable and affordable.


The need to drive behaviour change

Beth is Future Transport Behaviour Change Lead for Transport for West Midlands, the part of the West Midlands Combined Authority that strives to make sure that public transport is safe, reliable, affordable and also accessible and sustainable.

As part of these efforts, Beth told us that her team are working on the premise that transport challenges won’t be solved by just building public transport infrastructure or implementing new technology. “People will need to travel in a fundamentally different way if we want to hit our collective targets – including walking and cycling more,” said Beth.

This is why, she added, she advocates take up of the Edenred and Halfords Select Home to school scheme. Through the scheme, local authorities can easily distribute funds to families in the form of a digital Edenred Select voucher. Families can then exchange the voucher for a ‘letter of redemption’ which they can redeem online or in any Halfords store to select their bike. They can also choose accessories, such as cycle helmets, making the cycle to and from school cheaper and safer.

Beth said interventions like this will be key to addressing at least two of the five main barriers to children cycling – finances, safety, car reliance, cycling skills and social influence.

Currently only 2% of UK children cycle to school. She shared how the other barriers can be successfully addressed by changes to the Highway Code, schemes like Bikeability and social influence promotions such as the Sustrans #AndSheCycles campaign in Scotland.


For a copy of the webinar presentation, email us at ccsframework-uk@edenred.com.  


Building the business case, putting plans into action

Our live audience of local authorities agreed that more culture and behaviour change will play an important role in getting more children cycling to school – which will also help to reduce pollution and congestion as well as improve health.

The key to getting plans off the ground though will be access to funding that needs to be driven by a solid business case with demonstrable ROI, especially at a time when many councils are already over budget.

To support the case, one local authority pointed out that their cost for a school travel pass per term is currently almost £300. If a bike costs circa £200 that would potentially represent a saving of around £700 over three years.

Schemes also need to be tied to sustainability goals. Beth shared research from Sustrans revealing that just two active travel interventions in primary schools in Scotland could result in up 12 million fewer car journeys and 5,100 tonnes lower CO2 emissions per year.

The key, moving forward, will be to trial and test interventions like Select Home to school. This will help to build both the evidence and the business case for more affordable and sustainable travel.

To this end, Transport for West Midlands has recently created the Influencing Travel Lab – a programme sponsored by the Department for Transport that will pool insight and intelligence and distribute the findings for national benefit. Find out more on the Transport for West Midlands website.


Discover Select Home to school

Our Select Home to school vouchers scheme helps local authorities to meet their obligations under Department for Education guidance which aims to ensure that no child is prevented from accessing education by a lack of or cost of transport. Our partnership with Halfords means families have access to over 400 Halfords stores nationwide, plus a wide range of bikes and accessories such as child safety seats and trailers, bike locks and cycle helmets.

Read more about the scheme.

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