Two school children with bikes

Every child should be able to walk to school safely, and enjoy the fresh air, freedom, friendship and fun that it brings.   

A generation ago, 70 per cent of children walked to school.

Now, just 44 per cent for children in Wales travel to school actively – either walking, wheeling, cycling or scooting.

However, schools taking part in WOW – Living Streets’ walk to school challenge - are seeing this decline reversed. 

In Cardiff, dozens of schools have joined the scheme, as well as the council's existing active travel project. It's resulted in some big changes!

What is WOW?

WOW is our year-round walk to school challenge.

Pupils report how they get to school on our interactive WOW Travel Tracker. Those who walk, wheel, cycle or scoot at least once a week for a month are awarded a WOW badge.   

Walk to school rates in WOW schools increase by 23 per cent on average with a 30 per cent drop in cars at the school gates.

Find out more

School children with their WOW badges in front of the WOW logo
Smiling children wearing WOW t-shirts

WOW in Cardiff

Cardiff Council piloted the WOW scheme in five schools in April 2021, and in the September it launched an expansion to over 35 more.

Before starting WOW, 57% of children in these schools were travelling actively to school.

Since September, over 78% of pupils are now travelling actively, an increase of over 21%!

Cardiff is now the top local authority in Wales to deliver the scheme and one of the UK’s top participating cities.

The scheme is supported with Welsh Government funding for one academic year.



Cardiff's Active Travel Schools

WOW builds on the council's existing Active Travel Schools programme.

This includes both physical changes to schools (and the areas around them), and work with schools and communities to raise awareness and change behaviour.

The actions taken include a bike fleet programme (giving bikes to schools to be used as part of the school day), installing bike and scooter storage, and providing road safety training.

Cardiff Council logo - Ysgol Teithio Llesol - Active Travel School
Children and parents walking and scooting on a path

Since January 2020 the council has been working with schools to develop their own School Active Travel Plans.

These set out each school's priorities, whether it's making changes to nearby footpaths, installing traffic cameras, or providing classroom materials. This has also included establishing ‘School Streets’. School Streets were established in January 2020 where the streets in front of school gates are pedestrianised (except for permit holders) at school drop off and pick up times. By the end of July 2022, there will be approximately 20 live schemes.

94% of Cardiff's 130 schools are now part of the Active Travel Plans programme.

Case study - St Patrick's School, Grangetown

One of the Cardiff schools that's made some big changes is St Patrick's School in Grangetown, an inner city suburb.

The council discussed active travel with the school, took a look at nearby streets, and ran a survey of pupil's families. Pupils on the school council got involved, contributing ideas, and becoming the 'driving force' of the plan.

At the beginning of the project, pupils and their families faced several barriers.

Let's walk to school graphic
School bike shelter in use

One problem was people parking directly outside one of the school entrances, making visibility poor when children were crossing the street. This was addressed by adding 'School - Keep Clear' markings.

Bike storage was also a problem. While the school had shelters, they were used to store rubbish bins. Their position within a car park also made them unsafe for children to use.

The council's Active Travel Team moved the barriers and added a gate for children to access the storage from the playground. The facility is now regularly full, so more storage is being installed.

St Patricks was also given a fleet of 30 bikes and 10 balance bikes with a shipping container for storage, as well as a miniature road area for children to practice their road awareness, cycling and scooting skills.

The school launched its WOW programme with lessons on active travel and themed assemblies. It also invited families to bring bikes and scooters to school, and all children have tried out the miniature road markings.

Before introducing WOW, St Patrick's had an active travel rate of 51%. That's now increased to an amazing 81%!

As a mark of their incredible progress, the school were recently invited to Downing Street as part of the COP26 children's press conference with Sky News. They asked the Prime Minister challenging questions on climate change and explained the success of their WOW scheme.

School bike track in use
Woman walking on a path surrounded by grass

Creating healthy streets in Cardiff

Cardiff Council wants active travel to be at the heart of its transport plans.

To support this, we've been working with residents and others to identify ways to create healthy, safe and accessible streets.​

Find out more

Our services

Our 90 year history as the voice for pedestrians has made us experts on liveable neighbourhoods.

We have a range of services – both advisory and consultative - which help make places for people, and we help local authorities create more walkable streets.

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