Back to School Travel
In a climate where nearly 40% of all our journeys are under 2 miles, and for these nearly 40% of us take the car, the achievements under the School Travel Plan for the health and safety of our children can’t be overlooked.
It’s a mixed blessing: the end of the holidays but the return of a familiar routine. Some of us can’t wait for our kids to get back to school, but many of us carry concerns about the safety of that regular journey for our littlest on or near our roads.
And of course the community and particularly Newtongrange Primary School shares that concern too having worked together with parents to produce the current Travel Plan which puts the issues in perspective.
Within the document you will see results of a survey showing that 98% of our children live an acceptable walking or cycling distance (less than 2 miles) but 20% still utilise cars (17%) or buses (3%).
There are many benefits to encouraging our parents and children to make active travel choices, reduction in traffic congestion with increases in fitness and wellbeing but there are also barriers remaining with 6% of parents preferring to take the car given any option and many citing safety concerns. There are valid reasons for concern particularly with the exposure of inexperienced children to the road, but with studies now citing pollution related deaths potentially 20 times higher than road deaths, there’s even more urgent need to address the number of cars in close proximity to our most vulnerable.
…that equates to 27 kids getting a more exercise and over 30 cars no longer driving 6th Street every morning…
What perhaps makes the most impressive reading in the plan though is that through this work the amount of Newtongrange schoolchildren using active travel has increased 8% and those taking car only journeys has dropped 65% – that equates to 27 kids getting a more exercise and over 30 cars no longer driving 6th Street every morning – a fantastic achievement and incredibly well done!
How can we help this good work? Well, within the plan a role exists for the wider community in managing traffic and promoting awareness. Quite simply, when the kids go back this Monday we can all be mindful of the opportunity and benefits of keeping our driving to a minimum, and certainly away from the congested school zone, and if we have to drive nearby? …Lets keep our minds off the work ahead, or the shopping list, and focussed on the safety of our excitable and sometimes unpredictable wee learners heading back for term.