Walking and cycling are not only good for our health, good for getting around, good for public spaces and good for society, they mean that children arrive at school better prepared to learn. Walking and cycling both have the potential to make a positive contribution to many key public policy priorities involving health and urban congestion.
The number of journeys made on foot has fallen by 13% in the last ten years.
The number of miles travelled by foot has fallen by 18% in the same time.
In 1985 two thirds of primary school children walked to school. Now it is less than half.
Just a few small steps
There are many things a school can do to promote walking. The thing to remember is that it doesn't have to be the whole journey every day of the week. A little and often by the majority can make a huge difference.
There are a number of ways pupils (and their parents) can be encouraged to walk to school. As part of your school travel plan you could consider implementing some of these already successful schemes.
Walking buses are gaining popularity for Lower School children to get to school. Whilst they do require commitment and dedication they have shown to be one of the most effective ways to get parents and pupils out of their cars and achieve a reduction in school gate traffic & car trips.
If you are interested in setting up a walking bus the first step is to read our walking bus pack, this can be downloaded below, or requested from the school travel plan advisor on (01234) 408328.
This will contain all the information you require as well as tips on how to promote the concept and get people interested.
Park and walk schemes
As more and more children are driven to school the issue of parking outside the school gate is one of ever increasing concern. This is not only a problem for the schools and local residents as parents battle it out for a parking space but also for the police as they are called to deal with the problem. The issue then becomes one of road safety as the number of cars and often-erratic behaviour of parents endangers the children themselves.
"Don't be a fool, park away from school."
Walk to School Week
Walk to School Week is run twice annually with in May and October with a special International Day in the October week. It gives your school a chance to participate in a national effort to encourage walking to school and by doing this hopefully make parents and children alike realise that it is both enjoyable and achievable.
Throughout the weeks we provide schools with promotional materials and exciting competitions and many schools continue the theme with weekly days such as Walk on Wednesdays.
For more information about www.walktoschool.co.uk (new window), contact the school travel plan team for more information.
Cycling to school
A survey of local schools showed that cycling to school was the preferred mode of transport for many pupils.
So, should we be encouraging pupils to cycle to school?
Many feel it is simply too dangerous, young people don't necessarily have the correct road skills or experience, there is nowhere to store bikes and in many cases the local environment is not cycle friendly.
Whilst these concerns are legitimate there is much we can do through the development of a school travel plan to enable and encourage cycling to school. This may be through seeking funds to make the necessary changes to the environment, installing secure cycle storage or perhaps most importantly equipping young people with the necessary skills to make them safe, confident road users.
Whether as a school you allow pupils to cycle or not, it is key that the school acts as the provider for cycle training – a skill that has benefits far beyond the journey to and from school. All pupils should be given the opportunity to participate in cycle training and Bedford Borough Council Road Safety Team has a number of ways that this can be delivered and be integrated within your school travel plan.
Bikeability (which has replaced the old cycling proficiency test) is available through the boroughs middle schools (as it involves riding on the road children have to be at least 10 years of age before they can take part) for more details see our Bikeability page. You can also visit the Bikeability website.
It is important that schools consider cycling within their own local environment and are therefore encouraged to develop a cycle policy as part of the school travel plan. In this way the right measures will be in place to encourage safer cycling to school.
To contact the Highways Helpdesk, please telephone 01234 718003 or visit the 'Highways Reporting' webpage.
Other useful information can be found via the following external web sites: