Dates for assembly: June 12-20 Bike Week

4th June 2004 at 01:00
More than 1,200 local events will take place during this annual celebration. Many of them try to persuade us to take up or return to cycling

Outline script for assembly leaders

If you cycle one mile to school and one mile home every day, you will use up 200 calories, which is the same amount of fat that there is in a bag of crisps. If you do that for a year, you will lose 12 pounds of fat. Cycling also helps to lower your cholesterol, strengthen your muscles, reduce stress and increase your stamina. People who cycle also tend to sleep better than those who don't. So why doesn't everyone cycle to school?

One reason is that it may not be safe. The truth is that 125 adults and children were killed while cycling last year. That's too many.

However, 2,500 people were killed in road traffic accidents while they were in their cars or other vehicles, and 40,000 died from diseases related to obesity. In some places, cycle routes have been built to make cycling safer.

One school in Suffolk (Kesgrave Secondary) insisted that its local authority create safe crossings and cycle lanes. Now two-thirds of its students cycle to school.

Nearly nine out of 10 parents want cycling on the national curriculum. Some say it is as important to be able to cycle safely as it is to be able to swim. However, many don't cycle themselves: 10 million adults in this country have got unused bikes at home, which they used when they were younger. Bike Week is designed to persuade them to leave their cars at home and bike to work. You'll be helping their health if you try to persuade them to get back on their bikes. Hundreds of other events will be taking place, ranging from free safety checks and training sessions to demonstrations and exhibitions.

Follow-up

* Details of Bike Week are at www.bikeweek.org.uk

Visitors can search for local events by entering their post code. The site also has information on Government funding for schools and pages for new cyclists.

* Details about school "cycle trains" are at www.school-run.org

* Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, has a site with information, resources, guidance and support for all those involved in the school journey. It will help schools develop a school travel plan and aims to create a safe route for every child in the UK.

www.saferoutestoschools.org.uk

DAVID SELF

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