Cycling and walking to school

A child's journey to school is recognised as having an impact on the child’s safety, on their health and personal development and on today’s environment. The council assists schools in developing school travel plans and other initiatives like safer routes to school programmes. These initiatives aim to promote safer, more environmentally friendly and healthier ways for children to get to and from school.

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If you have older children, you could encourage them to cycle to school providing safe cycle routes are available. Before your children start cycling to school you will need to provide them with bright fluorescent and reflective clothing, supportive shoes, a bike, helmet, and a back pack.

It's better to buy the right size bike rather than get one which is too big that the child can ‘grow into’. An oversized bike could be dangerous and is likely to discourage your child from cycling. It's advisable to choose a bike without a crossbar which is safer if your child falls.

You should also buy a well-fitting cycle helmet. Make sure the helmet carries a CE mark and one of the safety standards (e.g. BS683:1989, AS.2063, ANSI, IZZ 90.4 SNELL, B90 or B95).

Enrolling your child on a cycle training course is also a good idea. This can help them to:

  • develop their observation and manoeuvrability skills
  • increase their confidence
  • learn the importance of cycle maintenance and hazard awareness
  • find out about the Highway code
  • get information and advice on wearing protective helmets and being clearly visible on the road

The council runs training sessions through youth groups and in schools. Find out more about cycle training in Tower Hamlets.


If you live close to the school you should encourage your children to walk to school to keep them fit and healthy. You will need to provide your children with bright, reflective clothing, supportive shoes and a back pack.

If you have young children you can either walk with them or get together with other parents and take it in turns to accompany them to school. Alternatively you could allow your children to participate in one of the walking bus initiatives.

A walking bus allows groups of children to walk to school to keep them fit and healthy and by doing so reduces traffic and congestion outside schools. Two responsible adults who are known by the school walk a group of children to school along an agreed route.

Any volunteers involved in a walking bus scheme have to first complete a police criminal background check. Some walking buses operate every school day while others operate one or two days a week depending on the number of adult volunteers involved.

The council's road safety department will assess walking bus routes and can provide training for volunteers. All children and adults involved in a walking bus must wear reflective clothing which can be supplied by the Traffic & Transportation Office.


Taking your children to school by car is not encouraged because of the pollution and traffic congestion caused. Also one in seven children today have asthma and medical evidence suggests that this is related to traffic fumes.

If you have no choice other than to take your children to school by car you should:

  • Make sure that your child gets out safely on the pavement side when you are dropping them off.
  • Park well away from school entrances and yellow zigzag areas to reduce traffic congestion at schools.
  • Make sure you don’t leave your engine running when waiting to collect your children. Idle engines produce 80 per cent more pollution than a vehicle that is in motion.
  • Try approaching other parents about sharing lifts to reduce congestion and pollution.
  • Where possible participate in a park & stride initiative by parking a distance away from the school at a designated car park and walking the remaining distance to school.

Help with home to school travel

We will provide transport for pupils of compulsory school age where they meet certain criteria. For more details see our school travel policy.

How to contact us

Public Realm

Tower Hamlets Town Hall
160 Whitechapel Road
E1 1BJ

Tel: 020 7364 6918
Minicom: 020 7364 6885