Through Scotland’s Road Safety Framework Evaluation Fund we have been able to support many evaluations of road safety initiatives across Scotland and the impact these have on road safety.
Recently we have funded Cycling Scotland on a “Changing Gears” report. This revealed some fascinating views on cycling from children, including a need for better education for drivers to make them feel safer and better access to bikes to encourage more young people to cycle.
This nationwide report was a first for Cycling Scotland – a co-designed study with children and young people. The report was conducted and written by national charity Children in Scotland.
The report found that most of the children and young people saw cycling as a fun and enjoyable activity they can do on their own or with friends and family. Cycling was seen as both relaxing and exciting, helping to keep them fit and healthy both physically and mentally.
However, many children were put off cycling due to safety concerns and the behaviour of drivers, creating hostile environments. Many citing a lack of “nice and safe” places to cycle such as well-kept cycle paths and trails.
As well as sending drivers back to the classroom, another road safety suggestion was having more signs reminding drivers to slow down.
Other young people mentioned it is the cost of bikes and cycling equipment that stops them from taking part.
The report also found that not all young people can cycle and there was a view that cycle training could be introduced and taught to children at an earlier age.
Transport Minister Graeme Dey said:
“I’m pleased that the ‘Changing Gears’ evaluation has been supported through Transport Scotland’s Road Safety Framework Evaluation Fund. Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2030, launched in February, has a vision for Scotland to have the best road safety performance in the world. It supports the 2030 vision for Active Travel – that Scotland’s communities are shaped around people, with walking and cycling the most popular choice for shorter everyday journeys.
“We recognise the importance of ensuring we achieve our shared objectives of safe roads and increased walking and cycling. Road safety is a lifelong learning process and education is critical, especially in early years: what our children learn and how they behave at a young age can remain with them throughout their lives. Through continued collaboration with road safety partners such as Cycling Scotland we will ensure road users will have access to learn and enhance their road safety knowledge. This will improve their road user experience, demonstrating positive road safety attitudes.”
Christopher Johnson, Head of Training and Education, Cycling Scotland said:
“Being responsible for the national cycle training programme for school children, Bikeability Scotland, we wanted to provide a mechanism where children could tell us their thoughts and feelings on cycling and road safety. Partnering with Children in Scotland was the ideal opportunity to realise these aims, ensuring that even the methodology of the research was co-designed with children. The findings of the report made very interesting reading, and demonstrate the important of listening to children. The report will help to inform our programmes and policies going forward.”
Chris Ross, Senior Policy, Projects and Participation Officer at Children in Scotland, and one of the authors of the report, was encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the young people. He said:
“We were delighted to support children and young people to have their voices and experiences shared and considered by decision-makers as part of the Changing Gears project.
“Myself and my colleague Elaine Kerridge very much enjoyed working with the national co-design team and the various schools across Scotland.
“We look forward to the views we heard being absorbed into future policymaking to support safe and fun cycling for young people.”