Whoosh! I still remember that ‘rush of freedom’ feeling when I rode my scooter as a child; the fresh feeling of wind on my face as I scooted along. And years later it was such a pleasure to see the exhilaration on my own children’s faces as they glided along on their much-improved versions.
To a child, a scooter is not just for fun but can be a serious form of transport. Our society has a desperate need to reduce car journeys to and from school and scooters can be part of the solution. However, safety is an issue that will pop up – not just safety of the child scooting but of other pedestrians around. Here we consider the benefits of scooting to school, look at some initiatives and products which help promote safe scooting to school, and show ways your school can promote it.
Why Encourage Scooting to School?
- Some of the benefits are shared with walking to school – fewer cars meaning less pollution and less traffic danger, exercise before school meaning children are alert, healthy and ready to learn.
- Scooting is an easy alternative to cycling. Learning to scoot safely will help develop the skills needed for future cycle training and means pupils can join in with some cycle events even if they can’t cycle, for example Sustrans’ Big Pedal event.
- Children who live further from school will enjoy the time-saving benefits of scooting and being able to ‘travel active’ rather than by car.
- Scooters can be stored fairly easily at school and don’t have to be a high cost item. Scooting is fairly inclusive; families who can’t afford a bike may be able to buy a scooter.
Learning to Scoot Safely
Although you can just hop on a scooter and ride, pupils need to learn how to ride safely so they don’t harm themselves, and recognise that they have to share the paths and not harm or intimidate others. It’s best to start with a scooter skills training course in the school playground. A few local authorities have run training schemes so check out their websites.
- Ladycross Infant School in Derbyshire had the Travel Smart crew come to the school to teach pupils key scooter skills as part of Derbyshire County Council’s Scooter Smart initiative.
- Derbyshire Constabulary got involved too and helped pupils from schools in the area understand how to stay safe on scooters. They also helped by security marking the scooters.
- Bromley Council ran the award-winning Scootsure Scheme, a playground based training aimed at Year 2 and 3 students. It was not only about improving safety for riders and pedestrians but also about making scooting to school a viable, active and sustainable alternative to using the car for everyone. All training was given by qualified cycling instructors.
- Micro Scooters have some training tips on their website and tips on scooting safely (see below).
- If you are a teacher, try some scooter challenge games as part of a PE lesson; weaving round cones and games that make pupils practice braking.
- Introduce a Scooter Code of Conduct which pupils sign after they have done the training. Here’s an example from Ladycross School.
- Have a safe place at school for storing the scooters; preferably in good view.
- If you are a pupil, make yourself visible; whether it is a high vis jacket or just a fluorescent bag, making yourself bright in daytime will help drivers to see you.
- Bling your scooter: add fluorescent stickers and reflective tape to your scooter to make it brighter. The reflective bits are particularly important if you are going out after dark.
- Maintain your scooter – keep the wheels clear of debris and make sure no parts are loose.
How to Encourage Scooting to School
- Hold a ‘Scoot to School’ day or ‘Scooter Breakfast’ – those who scoot get an orange juice and toast for taking part… or another reward.
- Start a scooter club. Pupils may be more likely to scoot together if they know of others who scoot. It also makes them safer if they are in a group.
- Give out bright stickers to recognising those who took part. They can use them to decorate their scooters.
- Bring it into the classroom… not the scooters! I mean the subject of scooting. Why Animals Can’t Ride Scooters and You Can’ is a great book for this.
- Shout about it! If you are having a scooter event, get pupils to write press releases and design posters to promote it. Tweet about your activities – mention @brightkidz so we can re-tweet.
- Embed it in your school culture. Publish a policy about scooting on your school website, in your prospectus and mention it to new parents at the school. Include it in your school travel plan, in your Eco Schools diary.
- By doing any or all of this you could also be fulfilling one or more initiatives for the Modeshift STARS School Travel Awards Scheme (in which many schools in England take part) or a recognition initiative in your area.
- Grown ups can scoot too! See the Scooter Smart Grown Ups Gliding initiative.
How to Scoot Safely
Here are some practical tips for scooting safely, courtesy of Micro Scooters.
- Always ensure you wear a helmet when scooting
- Use your brake to stop and slow down
- Don’t scoot off, either wait for your mum or dad to catch up or scoot back to them
- Always get off your scooter when you cross the road
- Be courteous to other pavement users. Move over to allow them space, or stop if there’s not enough room for you both to pass
- Always listen out for cars as they could be reversing out of their driveway
- Look out for changes of pavement surfaces, these can cause you to go faster or slower than expected
- Keep away from the edge of the pavement, scoot on the inside of the pavement away from the road
- Be careful scooting after it has been raining, especially over manhole covers as they will be very slippery
- Ensure you wear bright clothing, or reflective jackets, and put a light on your scooter so you can be seen
Thanks and credit to our friends at Serious Comedy for the ‘How to Scoot Safely’ tips, Modeshift for information on Bromley Council’s Scootsure Scheme and to Ladycross Infant School for their resource information.
Photos used with kind permission: Sustainable Travel Team at Derbyshire County Council, Serious Comedy and Micro Scooters. Brightkidz cannot be responsible for linked content.