As children grow up, they start to travel to places on their own. This is called independent travel. Independent travel is a key skill.
To travel safely, be prepared.
- Check your route and method of transport
- Have a clear plan and know what to do if plans change
- Agree your plan with your parent or carer
Some children learn to travel independently very quickly. But everyone can learn to travel smarter, and safer.
This page is suitable for all readers, but is also part of the Oxfordshire Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Local Offer which collects together information, services and support for children and young people in Oxfordshire with special educational needs and disabilities and their families.
There are lots of benefits to walking. It gives you time to relax, unwind and listen to music or audiobooks. It is exercise, and helps keep you fit, especially if you walking quickly.
Walking is also a great way to get to know your local area.
Crucial: When you're out walking make sure you are safe, at any time of day.
When it's too far to walk, lots of people go by bike.
Travel by bike is very cheap and the exercise helps keep you fit. Cycling is good for the environment as it does not pollute. Cycling is fast and reliable, especially in towns.
But you need to cycle safely:
- Always wear a cycle helmet to protect against head injuries
- Ride to be seen – wear visible clothing and have front and back reflectors and lights
- Keep your bike in good order, especially the brakes
- Be aware of your surroundings, other road users and potential dangers
Look out in your local and at your local school or setting for bicycle skills workshops.
Instant expert: You can find out more about cycling safety on the Bikeability website.
Look after your bike
To be safe, bikes need to be looked after. This means:
- Brakes, tyres, lights and gears are in good working condition and regularly checked
- Your bike is kept in a safe place or securely locked
The normal place to park your bike is in a cycle rack and securely locked.
If your bike is stolen
Report the theft to the police, and your insurance company.
Instant expert: All about keeping your bike safe, from Thames Valley Police
Public transport includes trains, buses and coaches. There may be discounts for young people on some routes and services, it is always worth checking.
Crucial: If you have a permanent disability, or a disability that is expected to last at least 12 months, then you may be able to apply for a Disabled Person's Bus Pass. Check eligibility and find out how to apply on the Oxfordshire County Council website.
Buses are usually very safe. They have CCTV and the drivers are all trained to deal with emergencies and problems. They also keep in touch by radio, so can easily report problems to their company or the police.
Crucial: Younger travellers can often get discounts from their local bus company, for example the Get Around card allows under 18s to only pay a £1 flat fare (single) on any Oxford Bus Company or Thames Travel service within the cityzone.
Trains are a popular choice for longer journeys and commuting. There are good train links to some parts of Oxfordshire, and it is a popular way to travel to Didcot, Banbury, Bicester and of course Oxford.
How to plan a journey by train:
- Go to National Rail Enquiries.
- Enter your journey details.
- Click on Go.
If travelling alone or after dark, you may feel safer near the driver or with other people.
Crucial: Always know when your last train or bus leaves, and have a plan ready (for example: money for a taxi, or someone you can call for a lift) in case there are delays.
Taxis and minicabs
Taxis can be hailed in the street, or from a Taxi stand.
Minicabs need to be pre-booked. You must book them by phone or using an app.
All taxis and minicabs in Oxfordshire must be registered and licensed with your District Authority.
Licensed taxis have plates, a fare meter, and the driver should also display their ID and License in a place visible to passengers.
Crucial: Never accept a ride or lift from a taxi if it does not have Taxi plates.
All taxi and minicab drivers have to pass an extra driving tests and learn about safeguarding their passengers before they are licensed. This is to help protect children and adults.
Crucial: If you are worried about a taxi driver, you should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible, and if possible save details of their taxi number or number plate so they can be reported.
You can find lists of local Taxi firms and locations of taxi ranks on your District Council website.
Getting a lift
For many young people, getting a lift with family, friends, or parents is the most practical way to get around. A lift from someone you trust may also be the best option if you're travelling late or early, over long distances, or to remote locations.
Do it right:
- Only get a lift with someone you know and trust
- Never get a lift with someone who's been drinking
- Never get a lift with someone you don't know
Learning to drive
When you are sixteen you can learn to drive a moped, and when you are seventeen you can learn to drive a car. You can apply for your licence three months before your sixteenth or seventeenth birthday.
To get your first provisional driving licence online for a car, motorcycle or moped you need to:
- Go to www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence
- Fill in the online form
- Pay the fee
You then need to learn to drive, and pass your driving test.
Crucial: Want to get started on learning to drive right away? Companies like Young Driver offer experiences and lessons to people as young as eleven.
Driving with a disability
Many people with disabilities find driving can help their mobility. If you have a disability, and are old enough to drive, the Regional Driving Assessment Centre can help. It provides specialist driving instructors, and occupational therapists to assess capability. Contact them to find out more.
Independent travel for people with SEN
Young people with special educational needs (and their families) may feel more worried about independent travel. But learning how to get around is an important step towards independent living.
Your local offer belongs to you!
The Local Offer explains support available to children and young people with special educational needs and disability, and to their families. We hope you found this page helpful. If you would like anything changed, updated or added, please use this online form.