Last week the Government published guidance for schools on the return to school for all pupils in England expected in September.
Our Head of Policy and Communications, Tanya Braun discusses why transport is going to be a key factor in ensuring everyone’s safety.
When we were all in Lockdown walking and cycling became two of life’s key pastimes. If we hadn’t already, we were all discovering the health benefits of wandering or cycling our streets and experiencing the joy of not breathing in motor fumes or having to constantly judge our safety as we crossed roads.
The return of all pupils to school in September poses both welcome relief and anxiety. Some of us will be raring to get back to school, some will be horrified at the thought of it. The same can be said for how we’ll travel around, now we know we’re going to have to. There have been many debates already about which of Lockdown’s silver linings will last. Can walking and cycling go the distance?
In the Government’s new guidance, there is a section dedicated to transport.
They are as keen as we are to encourage those travelling to school, to do so via active travel means – walking, scooting and cycling.
They encourage local authorities to do the following:
1. Urgently work with schools to survey parents on their typical routes to school and potential alternatives.
2. Consider a range of options for shifting demand for public transport onto other modes.
3. Consider using traffic demand management approaches in order to ensure that children are able to attend school from the start of the autumn term.
We know that schools are having to consider changes across the board, to ensure their children can return safely. How the children get to the school, isn’t part of the school day, but it is going to be key to ensuring safe social distancing and to supporting healthy activity levels in the months to come.
Our WOW, year-round walk to school challenge encourages primary school children and their families to travel actively. By doing so, children get a badge and reap the benefits of exercise, and there is less pollution around the school gates. Parents are more active too and the streets around the school are safer. WOW has a big impact – an average of 23% more children walking to school and 30% fewer cars driving up to the gates.
We have long promoted the walk to school and understand the barriers families can face – with busy lifestyles, weather and distance featuring as the key reasons they may not walk the school run. Our Family Walk to School Kit provides some advice and tips on how families can fit more walking into the school journey.
For secondary school pupils, walking and cycling may be particularly attractive from September as space on public transport will continue to be limited. Our transitions resources encourage them to consider the benefits of using these methods, with independence being a key factor for this age group.
As local authorities and schools prepare for September, considering the infrastructure around schools will be critical. School Streets are a great way of ensuring more people aren’t driving to the school gates. Our School Streets toolkit encourages parents to get involved in the conversation. Their support is invaluable in schools being empowered to implement School Streets.
Schools will be thinking actively about the questions they should be asking parents.
Considerations should include:
How do you get to school most mornings?
What alternatives that don’t involve driving to the school gates are open to you?
How far is your journey to school?
What are the barriers to walking and cycling to school at present?
Do you know the health benefits associated with walking to school?
If your employment was more flexible, would you be more likely to walk to school?
If you live far away, can you park near to the school and continue the journey on foot?
Our Holly has caught the running bug since she's been #walkingfromhome
Teaching from home is no walk in the park, but a walk in the park is helping this teacher.