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Calderdale pupils set on making the walk to school safer

Pupils in Calderdale took to their local streets (Monday 23 May) to identify the problems they experience on their journey to school, including litter, heavy traffic and pavement parking.

St Augustine’s VA Junior and Infant School pupils were joined by representatives from Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Calderdale Council on the School Route Audit.

A generation ago, 70 per cent of primary school aged children walked to school, now it’s less than half. In Yorkshire and the Humber, just 35 per cent of 5-16 year olds walk to school.

However, in schools taking part in WOW – the walk to school challenge from Living Streets, walking rates typically increase by 23 per cent with a 30 per cent reduction in cars driving to the school gates.

79 per cent of the trips recorded on the WOW Travel Tracker by St Augustine’s VA Junior and Infant School pupils are active, meaning they are walked, wheeled, cycled or scooted.

Research by Living Streets released this month found that 15 per cent of parents don’t walk their child to school because there is too much traffic.[1]

The audit aims to identify improvements that could be made to the local streets to enable even more families to walk to school. The recommendations will be brought together in a report by Living Streets to help inform Calderdale Council’s actions.

Jessie Davidson, Schools Coordinator, Living Streets said:

“May is National Walking Month, a time to celebrate the many benefits of walking and wheeling more. Walking to school is an easy way for families to introduce more activity into their day, while helping to reduce road danger, congestion and air pollution.

“However, many children are denied the joy of a walk to school because they don’t feel safe or comfortable walking to school.  Speeding vehicles, cars parked on pavements and unsafe crossings can all act as barriers. This audit is the first step in identifying what could be done to help more families swap the school run for a school walk.”

The area around Gibbet Street, Queen’s Road, Hanson Lane, Parkinson Lane and the Beech Hill estate in this part of Halifax is set to benefit from planned improvements aimed at creating a safe, healthy and more inclusive place where people choose to walk and use public transport.

Cllr Manisha Kaushik, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Lead Member for Active Travel, said:

“We are committed to tackling the climate emergency on our way to becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2038 and making it easier for people to walk, cycle and use public transport is a key part of this.

“We are proud to be working in partnership with Living Streets to ensure future generations have the skills and knowledge they need to build active, healthy and pollution-free travel into their lives.”

About the author

Kathryn Shaw

Head of Communications and Marketing, Living Streets / [email protected]