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Parents and Carers

Parents and carers have an important role in helping children become safe, independent adults by modelling safe behaviours while on the road. Parents and carers showing children the correct way to navigate the roads safely when walking and cycling provides a template for their own road safety behaviour. While schools have a part to play in hosting and teaching road safety activities, including cycle and pedestrian training, children will learn and practise more while out with adults. Whether it’s learning to cross the road, how to use traffic lights or where to position your bike, parents can help children practise and perfect road safety skills. This section provides information that can help support parents in ensuring that their children have the appropriate skills to be able to use the roads safely.

All you need to know about walking, cycling and scootering for parents

The term 'active travel' refers to journeys such as walking, scootering and cycling. Active travel usually happens as short journeys, such as walking or cycling to the shops, school, or to see friends and family. It is a great way to include exercise in your daily routine. In addition, it can save you money, reduce air pollution and provide more time to spend together on school and leisure journeys. 

One main benefit is the opportunity active travel can provide for supervised road safety practise, where you can teach a child how to travel safely on the roads, on foot or by bike. This can be essential in helping them become more independent travellers, especially as they move on to secondary school at age 11. As a parent or carer, deciding when a child is ready to travel independently is up to you. This should be based on the child showing that they are adequately prepared for independent travel by acting responsibly and safely on the roads.

This section includes tips, recommendations, facts and figures to help families walk and cycle more, and to support parents around their children becoming more independent travellers.

We have developed several resources to support parents in teaching their children good road safety skills, as well as being safe. These are:

In addition, We have created a ‘Carrying children on Bikes factsheet providing information on bike seats for children and trailers, which is a great resource for taking children out who are too young to cycle by themselves.

We have created some ‘How can I help my children learn about road safety’ films for children at nursery, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, advising when and what to teach children about road safety at different ages, which can be accessed at the bottom of this page.

What are the benefits of walking, scootering and cycling for my children?

Walking, scootering and cycling are great ways for children to stay active and healthy and can also be eco-friendly modes of transportation. Here are some facts and figures that may encourage UK parents to let their children walk, scoot or cycle on journeys:


Key facts around walking/cycling to school

In England and Wales, the number of children being driven to school continues to decrease, while walking to school is increasing. In 2021, 45 per cent of children in England and Wales walked to school and three per cent cycled to school1


Benefits of walking/cycling to school

  • 80 per cent of people who are obese at age 4 or 5 remain obese for the rest of their lives5

  • Inside the car, you can be exposed to levels of air pollution that are more than three times higher than a cyclist or someone walking in the same street6

  • Families could save £400 per year if their children walked to school instead of being driven7

  • In Wales, 90 per cent of children live within a 15-minute walk of a primary school and 75 per cent live within a 15-minute cycle of a secondary school 8 9

  • Concentration levels of children who cycle or walk to school are eight per cent higher after four hours than for children who are getting a lift by car10.

How do I teach safe walking. cycling and scootering to my child?

We advise the following ideas to support children in safe walking, scootering and cycling to school and for other journeys:


  • Practise scootering in an area away from traffic (e.g. a local park) to ensure that the child can stop and manoeuvre the scooter correctly, before allowing them to scoot on the pavement

  • Ensure that children are aware of and know what to do when they are crossing driveways - to listen out for engines being turned on or running and to be aware that cars can pull out/reverse into and out of driveways and that drivers may not see children 

  • Take up any offer of scooter training from school, if available, as this will ensure that your child is safer when scootering on the pavement

  • Scooters can be carried home if schools are not able to store them or parents don’t want to leave the scooter at school

  • Ensure children wear clothes that will help them be seen more clearly by vehicles on the road (important when crossing driveways and roads)

  • Check your child’s scooter before allowing them to use it. OurScooter safety checklist is designed to help you know that a scooter is roadworthy.



  • Let children get used to cycling with stabilisers or a balance bike to help them build confidence, before moving on to a normal bike

  • Ensure that the bike is the right size for the child before allowing them to cycle

  • We have created a ‘Which bike is right for my child?’ factsheet to help parents and carers

  • Take advantage of any cycle training that is offered at school. Bikeability, the cycle training scheme, is a standardised cycle training programme, which should give parents and carers confidence that when children who have passed their assessment, they are capable of cycling safely on the roads 

  • Encourage children to wear hi-visibility clothing and a bike helmet for their own safety. We have created a ‘Which equipment does my child need to be safer while cycling?’ factsheet with information on different cycling equipment for children

  • Cycling with children will allow them to observe and practise good cycling behaviours before becoming more independent. Take children out on quiet roads once you are confident that they can take instruction and/or have already had some experience and training (e.g. passed Bikeability Level 2) and build up their experience from there. Encourage children who are cycling to use bike lanes, bus lanes and advanced stop lines, where they exist, to keep them away from other traffic.



When is the right time to let my child walk on their own?

  • Let children walk regular short routes on their own before allowing them to walk longer routes (e.g. walk to shops before walking to school or bus stop) to show that they can do this. Prepare them for the short routes by checking that they are making correct decisions at places where there are risks (e.g. crossing any roads, driveways)

  • Agree the route beforehand and walk it with your child to identify risks and strategies for staying safe (e.g. appropriate crossing points, where traffic may speed). Ask the child what they would do in a given situation (e.g. what to do when crossing side roads) to check that they are making good decisions

  • Agree a set of rules around the school journey, such as a set time to be home by, the child calling the parent/carer if they are going to be late and sticking to the same route each time from starting location to home, so that parents can retrace the journey if the child is not back on time 

  • Encourage children to walk in groups to school or other locations, as there is safety in numbers 

  • Add tracking on your child’s phone, so that you know where they are if they are travelling independently. This can be achieved through apps, such as Google Family Link (available for iOS and Android)

  • Encourage children to look both ways at traffic lights and listen out for any traffic that could come through the crossing, even during the green man phase, and to wait if the green man light is flashing

  • Encourage children to think for themselves and not to just follow what their friends are doing when crossing roads

  • We have created a film ‘At what age should I begin to allow my child to walk independently?which provides additional advice on supporting your child to become independent. This film can be accessed at the bottom of this page.

How can I teach my child to ride a bike safely on the road?

  • After children have learnt the basics of riding a bike, they need to understand the rules of the road, which are very different for cycling compared to walking the same journey 

  • A keen parent may be able to take their child out and teach them themselves but we would still recommend that a child does their Bikeability Level 2, even if it is a revision of what the child has already learnt with parents 

  • For older children, we would also recommend children doing their Bikeability Level 3, which offers more one-on-one training, and can be good preparation for longer journeys (such as a commute to school). This is not usually offered by schools but can be requested from a local council Active Travel team, usually for a cost

  • We have created a ‘How do I to teach a child to ride a bike guide which provides information on the steps involved in getting your child to ride their bike with confidence

  • Cycling together as a family is a great leisure activity which can help kids improve their cycling and road safety abilities, build skills around communication and teamwork, as well as being fun and good exercise. A bike ride together allows parents and carers to model good cycling technique and encourage being active in a fun way. In addition, the bike ride allows parents and carers to check on children’s cycle technique, and reassure older children that they are ready or on their way to being able to travel independently. We have created a ‘Family Cycle Ride Guide and ‘Family Cycle Rides Film, full of tips, ideas and information to help you and your family get out together for a safe and fun cycle ride. The films can be accessed at the bottom of this page. 

How do I get cycle training at my at my child's school?

The majority of primary schools will offer Bikeability Level 1 and Level 2 training to children in Key Stage 2/Second Level (ages 7-10) although this isn’t guaranteed. Where this has not been offered to your child’s school, the school should be encouraged to request training through the local authority’s Active Travel team or a dedicated cycling officer whose remit includes cycle training. The cost for this may be covered by the local authority. If the local authority is not able to help, the school may need to find some funding to be able to directly pay a cycle training provider to come and deliver this at the school.

At secondary school, it is not as common to have cycle training. At this stage, a school will likely have to request cycle training, which may be Bikeability Level 1 and 2 for new cyclists, as well as Bikeability Level 3 for more advanced cycle training and which often includes one-on-one training with a cycle trainer. Schools will need to request cycle training through the local authority’s Active Travel team, who may or may not cover the cost, or the school can pay a cycle training provider to come and deliver training at the school.

Another option is for a parent or carer to approach a cycle training provider to pay for their own child’s cycle training. We would recommend that if a parent does this, they should ask the local council who they would recommend. 


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