I'm going to focus on Maidstone to show why these factors don't have an impact on cycling to school, and the main, if not only reason, for low cycling rates is traffic. I'm going to be using the data from here: http://hfcyclists.org.uk/s4c-maps/
Maidstone Grammar School has a cycling rate of 8.9%. Considering that every secondary school has a less than 0.2% cycling rate, this is very impressive. But the question is, what is so different at Maidstone Grammar School? In terms of similarities to other schools in Maidstone, much is similar:
- The area around the school is no less hilly than the rest of Maidstone
- The students live in the same area as other students from other schools, so "cycling culture" is going to be no different to that of students in other schools
- Roads around the school are no less busy than other schools, and it has 30mph through traffic outside the front gate.
But there is only one main difference:
- The school has an entrance outside a park
I have added the extent of the traffic free routes from the school onto a Satellite image. No other school in Maidstone has a traffic free route from the school:
This is the only reason Maidstone Grammar School has a much higher cycling rate than the rest of Maidstone. Now just imagine how many more would cycle if the school got rid of its compulsory helmet policy.