October is International Walk to School Month. Here's our Head of Policy and Communications, Tompion Platt, to explain why it's an exciting and important month in our calendar.
In the UK figures released just last month show that the number of children walking to school has reached an all-time low. A generation ago 70% of children walked to school. Today that figure is just 48%. This is a trend that is repeated in many countries around the world.
We have an ambitious target at Living Streets - that every child that can, walks to school. And I’m feeling very inspired this International Walk to School Month.
Turning the school run into the school walk isn’t just important because it creates good walking habits at a young age. It also helps to reduce traffic congestion, improving air quality by reducing the numbers of cars on the roads, and is good for children’s health too.
Living Streets is calling for the Government to commit to an ambitious target to increase the percentage of primary school children that usually walk to school. Its new Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy also needs to say how it’s going to get there, set milestones and identify where the funding will come from to secure delivery.
We’re doing our bit too. Our Walk to School campaign supports over 900,000 children across the UK to walk more. WOW, our year-round walk to school challenge, rewards children who walk to school at least once a week with collectible badges and has been shown to increase walking rates by 23%.
Living Streets also works with local authorities to make sure streets are fit for walking so that families feel safe to do so. We’ve helped set up school exclusion zones in places like Edinburgh and Camden – these projects have made streets safer and less congested around the school gates.