“Parents are banding together against their local council after receiving multiple fines for dropping their kids off at school. Primary school parents from Bentleigh East, Victoria, have been left outraged after receiving $161 fines because they stopped in the Kiss and Go zone, despite the fact cars are allowed to park there for up to two minutes.”
We have all seen the Kiss and Go signs around our kids’ school. You stand in line to drop your kids off in the designated area and have to kick them out of the car while wishing them a good day. On top of that, you risk a fine apparently! Most schools are not designed for the kinds of traffic that comes with school runs. This results in long wait times, wasted gas, outraged neighbours, and kids at risk from the pollution and hazards resulting from a large volume of cars packed around the school. School officials are stressed, parents are annoyed, and kids are bored. The fact that there are numerous tips on “how to deal with the insane school runs” is just crazy. Plus, there are rules for the Kiss and Go zone, where you need to keep moving. So, your kids better learn how to tuck and roll… The problem is insane. And we have not even talked about the long-term effects on your children yet.
What is Bike & Stay?
Dutch Cargo Bike does not believe in this Kiss and Go sign. That is why we have initiated Kiss & Stay ten years ago. But we want to make it clearer and easier for schools to hop on board. So, we are rebranding it to Bike & Stay with your help. Check out the Facebook page here to contact us, or to keep an eye out for the website launch. The idea is that when you come by bike, you can stay as long as you like and chat to your kids or other parents! No stress looking for parking spots, you are not adding to the dangerous number of cars around the school zone, and you never risk getting a parking fine. Furthermore, cycling is better for the environment and is cheaper than using your car. We wrote a whole blog about cargo bikes functioning as car replacements for if you want an in-depth read on this topic. Want to continuously help us with this idea? Check how to become an ambassador at the bottom of this article.
Stress-Free school mornings
We acknowledge the fact that morning stress is real on school days. We know it starts the moment the family wakes up, especially if the day before it was worse than ever to get everyone ready and going. For five tips on how to create a stress-free morning routine, we thought this article was a good read. Now that you are ready to go out the door, what is your choice? The passive car option or the active cycling option?
Fun and healthy transport
Transport Canberra and Vic Health have made great, kid-friendly cartoons to communicate this message: choosing anything but a car for school runs is a good choice. The Ride or Walk to School programs give children and parents the encouragement to choose active travel. Kids love spending some more quality time with their parents. It is good for them to be able to tell stories about their day to someone they trust. Moreover, they get to connect with their friends along the way and learn so much about the world by just observing it on their daily route. Some benefits of cycling for the school community are:
- Healthier and more socially connected children
- Reduced congestion and impact on the environment
- More attentive students
- Greater community awareness of the school environment
- Improved traffic flow and safety
Other benefits for adults are found here.
Safety around school runs
From 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, 27 percent of ALL car accidents occurred during school pick-ups according to AAMI’s analysis. And 24 percent happening during school drop-off. That is a total of 51%, so more than half (!), of all car accidents in Australia happened because of school runs. That is why it did not come as a surprise to us that parents of children are found to be the country’s most dangerous drivers. While we dare to say that we all want out kids to be safe! But the congestion, time pressure, and everyone’s negative attitude involved in the school runs are the main issues here. Less traffic, simply means less accidents. If you live to far away to walk your kids to school, a bike is the perfect alternative. And a cargo bike can also carry as much as a normal car boot. Those heavy school bags, instruments, and younger siblings are easy to handle for any of our cargo bikes.
No struggling with the car seats and no standing in the dangerous line towards the Kiss & Go zone. Traveling by bike is more predictable than any other form of vehicle. Public transport and cars are subjects to traffic, where as that is rarely a problem for any cyclist. Riding short distances is often quicker than driving. Plus, a bike offers door-to-door service. Which is what we like most about our Bike and Stay initiative. You can park right outside the school gate and socialize before heading home. Need to hurry to work straight after? We have great commuter bikes as well and watch this if you are not convinced that taking the bike could save you time on your commute as well!
Independent mobility (i.e. walking or cycling in the neighbourhood without adult supervision) is important for your people. Not only for their physical development, but also their social, cognitive and emotional development. However, many parents restrict their children’s movement around their local neighbourhood due to safety concerns. Deakin conducted a study from 2004 to 2006, to test whether Children’s independent mobility is influenced by their parents’ perceptions of safety. On average, boys had a greater level of independence than girls. And the findings did confirm that parents’ perception of safety influenced their children’s independent mobility. When parents think that local traffic is slow and there are enough speed bumps on local streets, they allow their kids to become more independent regarding their mobility. It has also been suggested that compared with previous generations in Australia, children today are more restricted in terms of where they are allowed to go outside without adult supervision. This also plays a major role in children getting enough physical activity. La Trobe University and VicHealth found in 2015 that only 1 in 5 Australian children gets the recommended one hour a day physical activity. Commuting to and from school in an active way helps tremendously in getting your daily exercise done. The university of Canberra published an article about how Australian parents think we should get more children walking or cycling to school. Read here.
Helping your kids get around safely on their own
VicHealth has written a great brochure about this topic. So if you want to give that a read, click here. In summary, it is a gradual process from kids being fully dependent on you to pre-independence, to independence. Talk to your kids about what they think they can do on their own to determine their starting level and ask them questions to test their level. But it starts even earlier than this. Kids learn by example. Which means that you, as a parent, have to lead by example. If you take them with you on a (cargo) bike from an early age, they see you interacting with traffic. Walk or cycle with children under five to local places to teach them about the neighbourhood. That already gives them confidence to cycle to school by themselves when they are old enough to ride themselves. Then you can cycle or walk next to them to demonstrate safe and active ways to travel. When both of you think it is time for the next step, you can discuss a plan with milestones and boundaries. Remind your child of strategies for when things go wrong and give them your trust. Kids feel safe when you feel safe. Remember, by driving them in your car everywhere, you only contribute to the problem. Your children will experience more (mental) health issues when they grow up. Your local council is not going to invest in safer routes if the cars have the upper hand. But if we all start preferring bikes for school runs, we might convince them otherwise. The change starts with you. Are you ready?
Bike and Stay is looking for ambassadors. These are people who love to promote bike riding for school runs. People who choose the active lifestyle over the passive one. Parents who want their children to grow up to be healthy, happy, independent individuals. We need more people to look after our planet, our children, and thus, our future. Bike and Stay makes school drop-offs and pick-ups more positive. Share your cycling experiences on your socials with #BikeAndStay to inspire others to do the same. Would you like to become an ambassador? Talk to us!
As you might be aware, we offer a week-long free trial on the Tern GSD to help families discover the possibilities of a cargo bike. One of those stories is from Roger. He has two kids (age 3 and 6) and we installed the right accessories for him to hit trails, parks, picnics, shops, and school drop-offs. Another happy dad is Robert. The every day ride to childcare, kindy and now school with his son Edwin became something special to look forward to. The cargo bike has been a central part of father-son time together packed with joy and adventure. He also says that the cargo bike brings a new sense of community. Clarissa’s eldest son has been in bike seats on the back of their bike since he was 10 months old. When the second child came along, they purchased a cargo bike and the kids often ask to “go in the cargo bike”. Last but not least, Caroline has a physical condition that made her struggle with walking to school twice a day with a baby in the pram. Driving was also not an option, because parking at their local school was limited. Even though she was nervous to cycle in Melbourne at first, she realised how easy and safe a cargo trike was! The children love the bike and the car sits in the driveway now.
Dutch Cargo Bike also supports other initiatives than Bike and Stay. We support Ride2School and The Royal Melbourne Hospital. Do you have an initiative to encourage more people to be active, healthy, and happy? Give us a call to discuss possibilities.
School runs could be better, nay, should be better! The stress in the mornings in not good for anyone right now and we know that it is also not good for our future. Our children suffer from not getting enough structure, exercise, and independency. The Kiss and Go signs at our local schools were a preventative for accidents, but as we have seen half of the car accidents in Australia happens around the schools. Now, you could argue that that is exactly the reason why you want to drop-off and pick-up your kids by car. Because they are safer in there than outside, right? Wrong. If we all keep driving our cars, we only cause more risk, more hazards, and wrong habits. Bike and Stay is the alternative to Kiss and Go and we need your help to make it big. Dutch Cargo Bike wants to encourage everyone to choose the active way of getting around and about. This not only reduces the traffic around schools which makes them safer, but also contributes to your child’s healthy habits and teaches them to become confident, independent individuals. And kids who are more independent, are also happier. We know we all want what is best for our kids. Feeding them our fears and unhealthy habits is not the way to go. Bike and Stay is. Help create a better future. Start with yourself. Start today.