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National Highways helping more pupils walk to school

A new partnership is helping pupils in the North East and Yorkshire take to their feet this National Walking Month.

National Highways and Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, is working with 15 schools to help encourage and enable pupils to travel to school more sustainably.

The schools are based across Yorkshire and the North East, including Berwick upon Tweed, Bradford, Cleckheaton, Coxhoe, Gateshead, Hull, Jarrow, Leeds, Malton, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Rotherham, and are all located within 500m of the Strategic Road Network.

Throughout National Walking Month in May, the charity is carrying out School Route Audits, which see pupils, families and school staff walk around the local area and identify the barriers to walking to school. 

Following the audits, Living Streets will provide recommendations to National Highways regional teams on potential improvements that could make it easier for pupils to walk to school, such as community actions.

Lane End Primary School in Leeds carried out their School Route Audit this week (Wednesday 3 May). Pupils from the school joined Living Streets on the audit and made suggestions, such as some artwork and better lighting in the underpass, more bins to tackle litter problems and cutting back shrubbery where it has overgrown.

The partnership will also see schools benefit from WOW – the walk to school challenge from Living Streets. WOW sees pupils record how they get to school using the interactive WOW Travel Tracker with those who walk, wheel, cycle or scoot awarded collectable WOW badges. WOW schools typically see walking rates increase by 23 per cent with a 30 per cent reduction in cars at the school gates.

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets said:

“May is Living Streets’ National Walking Month, a time to celebrate the many benefits of walking and wheeling. However, we know that many families are denied the joys of walking to school because they are concerned about unsafe walking routes.

“It’s great to be working with National Highways to help identify the barriers these schools are experiencing, so that more families can start to enjoy the health and happiness benefits of swapping the school run for a school walk.”

Simon Boyle, National Highways Regional Director said:

“Making sure that everybody gets to their destination safely is always National Highways’ top priority, whether by vehicle, bicycle or on foot, so we’re proud to work in partnership with Living Streets to help develop safer routes to school. Together, we will listen to communities and welcome this important feedback about how we could potentially improve walking routes for everyone in the future.”

Jane Hopwood, Head teacher, Lane End Primary School said:

"Our children want to be safe out and about with their friends and family.  Travelling by bike, scooter or on foot can be tricky in such a busy part of the city.  We hope Living Streets can help make changes to our local area and plan a better future of our community."

Pupils from Lane End Primary School in Leeds take part in a School Route Audit. 

About the author

Kathryn Shaw

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