'Give pupils bikes while space on buses is limited'

Low-income pupils should get bike grants at a time when social distancing reduces space on buses, say Scottish Greens

Henry Hepburn

Coronavirus: Funding should be provided to help low-income families buy bikes so that pupils can cycle to school, with public transport limited by social distancing restrictions, say Greens

Low-income families should receive £100 grants to help them buy bikes for their children, the Scottish Greens have said.

Bicycles would help pupils get to school safely while social distancing measures reduce the space of school buses, transport spokesman John Finnie said.

The Greens are proposing that funds be given to the 120,000 pupils who already qualify for school uniform grants to help them buy bikes and safety equipment such as helmets.

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The call came ahead of a statement by transport secretary Michael Matheson in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow, in which he is expected to set out how public transport can continue to operate safely as lockdown restrictions begin to be eased.

Coronavirus: Call for funding to help pupils cycle to school

The Greens  who can provide a majority when they vote with the SNP  are calling on the Scottish government to put support in place now to allow schools to ensure that every child who lives within three miles of the site is able to cycle or walk there safely. Money for road-building projects halted during the Covid-19 crisis could be used the cover the costs, the party suggested.

Mr Finnie said: "This must mean access to safe, segregated routes, ensuring that children and any accompanying adults are able to socially distance on their way to and from school."

He added: "The Scottish government must also ensure that schools are given assistance to introduce cycle training as soon as possible."

Mr Finnie said work also needs to take place to ensure that many children can still get the bus to school when they return to classrooms on 11 August, for example by staggering school start times.

"To accommodate social distancing, schools will need buses to be at a fraction of current capacity." he said.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: "We know that capacity on our public transport system will remain limited as a result of the need to maintain physical distancing, and guidance for public transport users and operators is a key element of the plan to keep public transport safe.

"This guidance will assist transport operators and their workforce in the provision of safe operations and set out advice for users, businesses and organisations when considering when to travel and how staff will travel to work.

"We recently announced the Spaces for People fund, providing £10 million of funding for local authorities to introduce temporary walking and cycling infrastructure to enable physical distancing. We are also considering a range of initiatives to support and further encourage the increases in walking and cycling which we have seen during lockdown."

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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