Many primary school children in the Netherlands are not cycling enough and this is turning them into clumsy, unsafe cyclists, road safety experts said on Thursday.
Traffic safety organisation Veilig Verkeer Nederland (VVN) says many parents prefer to take their children to school or after-school clubs by car, leaving their bikes at home.
‘School runs are always busy, with lots of cars. Parents think this makes it too dangerous to go by bike. It’s understandable but at the same time it’s creating a vicious circle. The more people come by car, the more dangerous the situation around the school,’ VVN spokesperson José De Jong told broadcaster NOS.
De Jong says teachers notice the consequences of the children’s lack of experience on bike trips when children get their handle bars tangled up or brake too abruptly causing others to bump into them.
‘Cycling gives you an insight into how traffic works but for this insight to develop you have to start children early, before the age of 12. Otherwise they won’t have it when they start secondary school,’ NOS quotes De Jong as saying.
VVN does not have concrete figures about the size of the problem but is investigating why more parents are taking the car.
The organisation also wants to encourage schools to teach actual cycling skills in the playground in addition to the traffic rule lessons and cycling exams it already organises.
Some 200,000 children in their last two years of primary school will take the theoretical cycling test on Thursday. Some 90% of primary schools are involved in the theoretical tests but only 80% carry out the practical exams and that, says VVN, is too few.
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