Road safety, abuse from drivers, catcalls from boys and men and poor access to changing areas are among the issues facing Kildare schoolgirls who cycle to school. Kildare Senator Fiona O’Loughlin has called for conditions to improve to encourage more girls to cycle to school. A campaign by An Taisce #andshecycles which began in 2019 found that fewer than one in 250 teenage girls cycle to school every day, and those that do said verbal harassment from boys and men was a top deterrent. A group of transition year students on a mission to get more teenage girls in Kildare to cycle to school has also found that schools can help to promote cycling by providing more storage and access to changing areas. One of the transition year student Aimee Kavanagh, from Presentation Community College Terenure who conducted in five schools found that schools said the findings concur with Senator Fiona O’Loughlin’s recent proposal for small grants to be given to schools in conjunction with their local authority to provide bicycle shelters to protect student bikes from weather related damage.
It also found that schools could also look to include programs such as the Cycle Right program run by Cycling Ireland. This program aims to provide practical safety and skills for cycling. As confidence and lack of knowledge regarding rules of cycling were identified as deterrents for some students, the Cycle Right program may be of benefit. Last September Fianna Fáil Senator Fiona O’Loughlin called for tax incentives to be given to parents purchasing bicycles for their children to cycle to school.
Senator O’Loughlin said; “Now more than ever, we are encouraging children to cycle to school wherever possible. It’s a great start to the day for young people to travel in the fresh air rather than on a school bus or further clogging up the roads going by car.”