A mother has spoken of how she sends her children to school through Bath’s traffic on their bicycles – even though she fears she may not see them again alive.
Joanna Wright said she tells them she loves them every day but it is an “ethical decision” to encourage them to cycle so they do not add to the congestion on the school run.
Candidates at the climate change hustings were united in calls for action to cut congestion from the school run, with one idea touted being American-style yellow buses.
Speaking of her children’s bike ride from Lambridge to Beechen Cliff, Liberal Democrat candidate Ms Wright said: “There’s not a day when I don’t tell my children as they leave that I love them, because I’m so worried I may not see them again alive.
“I’m so worried about their safety on the roads in Bath.
“I do this with a heavy heart. We have a lot of arguments in the house.
“My husband thinks I’ve made the wrong choice. I think I’m making the ethical choice. He says, ‘but your children might die’.
“I try to encourage my children to cycle along the canal but they were stopped recently by a woman shouting at them that they shouldn’t be there as cyclists.
“The reasons children have a hard time getting to school are awful.
“Other children’s experiences are terrible, not just mine. Many children have awful experiences in this city. We haven’t addressed that.
“If you can make it safe for a child of eight to cross the city on their own, you make it safe for anyone.”
Mrs Wright said another issue was the 4,000 private school children who get shipped into Bath every day, which she said no-one is addressing.
Bath and North East Somerset Independent Group spokesperson Peter Andrews said if buses were affordable and went where people wanted to go then would start to solve the problem.
He said other parts of the world had exclusion zones around schools that cars cannot enter, adding: “Is it such a dangerous city that we have to go out in cars?”
Conservative Councillor Mark Shelford worked in the USA and was inspired by the ubiquitous yellow school buses, which were introduced after pressure from the community.
He said a similar system could run in Bath and North East Somerset for £6.4million a year, excluding the capital cost of the buses, and the funding could come from the West of England Combined Authority.
Cllr Shelford hopes to meet with the heads of multi-academy trusts and private schools to discuss the issue.
He said the council was drawing up a plan to deliver safe routes to school, work and amenities, funded by Weca.
Green candidate Fay Whitfield, who went to St Mark’s, said there needs to be a wider conversation about where Bath’s schools are and why parents do not want to send their children to their closest school.
She said: “In Odd Down there are empty school buildings. Can they be used so children in Odd Down don’t have to go across town?”
Miss Whitfield said the Greens would prioritise walking and cycling highways that would also help to address the childhood obesity “crisis”.
John Bull said Labour’s national policy is to introduce free bus travel for under 25s, paid for out of vehicle excise duty.
He said the issue exists across North East Somerset and not just in Bath.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter