YOUNG people at this primary school are getting on their bikes.
So keen are children at Mytham Primary in Little Lever to cycle to school in the mornings that they have started a campaign to make the roads safer while raising money — nearly £10,000 — for bike sheds at the school.
And to promote — and gauge interest for — the initiative, Walking to School week became Wheel to School week, where youngsters arrived on their bikes, their roller skates and scooters.
Walk to School week, or in this case wheel to school week, is held every year to encourage parents and children to leave the car at home, get outside and get fit by walking to and from school.
It is hoped it will encourage people to make walking to school part of their daily routine.
Children at the school say not only is leaving the car at home better for the environment, and a way of staying healthy — it is also fun, The idea of allowing children cycle to Mytham was first put forward by a parent about the possibility of their child cycling to school — and then taken forward by the school’s Eco Gang.
Headteacher Angela Eastwood said: “We asked the Eco Gang how they would like to come to school because we had to be realistic about the idea and make sure that there was a demand for cycle storage sheds and we had very favourable responses from parents.”
And after receiving the go ahead, children set about helping to address the concerns of parents about safety issues on the roads and where the bikes could be stored during the school day so parents did not have to take the bikes back home with them.
Members of the school’s Eco Gang conducted a traffic survey — drawing on their maths skills — and wrote letters to Bolton Council about their hopes to cycle to school safely because it was good for the environment and their health. The children even attended the Little Lever Area Forum to put their requests to local councillors.
They asked for the speed limit on Mytham Road to be reduced to 20mph, for a flashing light on the road to be installed before the bend to warn drivers they were approaching a school crossing patrol and signs to be installed telling drivers children were cycling in the area. After the meeting, council officers visited the school and additional barriers have been put up along with warning markings painted on the road surface to warn drivers and make it safer for children.
And the council has backed a motion to introduce “a mandatory” 20 mph speed limit on most residential roads in the borough Mrs Eastwood said: “The children have seen that if they have a concern, how to go about addressing it and how they can make a difference. At the area forum they were very mature and knowledgeable and put forward a reasoned argument.” Children are also to be taught about the importance of wearing the right equipment while cycling, as well as road awareness through cycling courses.
The school is now making plans for teachers to become accredited cycling coaches.
Families took part in a sponsored bike ride in the nearby Ladyshore Park to raise £1,000 towards the cycle and scooter storage area, which will cost £9,000.
Mrs Eastwood said the scheme formed part of the 2012 London Olympics legacy.
She said: “Jason Kenny is from Bolton.
“Cycling can be done by people of all ages, all levels and as a family activity.
“We call it thinking outside the X-box.”
The cycling to school initiative also fitted in with the children’s study of the environment said year one teacher Jane Lord. She said: “It is also about the children being part of the community.
“The children are so enthusiastic about this project, without that it would not happen.”
And the children themselves are excited about the scheme.
Finlay Dewhurst, aged six, said: “Cycling is really good, I enjoy it. I have been cycling for a long time.
“I would rather ride my bike than go in the car, and you don’t waste petrol.
“You do have to be careful and wear the right equipment. I would say to people don’t be lazy and to use their bikes.”
Lauren Fry, aged eight, added: “I am really proud that our project is making a difference.
“I would rather get up early and cycle to school with my parents — it is more fun.
“Cycling is better because of the exercise you get and for the environment.”
Businesses or individuals who want to donate towards the cycle storage areas should contact the school on 01204 333556.