Road Safety News
 

Giant Walking Bus gives kids a voice: Brake

Wednesday 11th June 2014

More than 100,000 children from over 600 schools across the UK are expected to take to the streets today as part of the Giant Walking Bus, an initiative coordinated by Brake, the road safety charity.

The Giant Walking Bus is an annual national event through which primary school children learn about road safety, traffic pollution, and transport choices.

Participating schools get their pupils to march as part of a supervised group, holding hands on safe pavements or around the school's grounds.

Brake says the objective is to “give children a voice, helping them tell drivers to slow down and look out for people on foot and bike”.

In a survey of almost 5,000 children carried out by Brake, 76% of respondents said they would like to walk and cycle more. However, 56% worry they might be run over by traffic when walking or cycling on roads, and 81% said drivers should go slower around their school or home.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said: "The thousands of kids out on the streets today should send a clear message to everyone: kids want to be able to get out and walk and cycle, and by not making our streets safe, we are denying them the fun, active childhoods they deserve.

“This has serious implications for their long-term health and wellbeing, the burden on our NHS, the environment, and our society as a whole.

“If we are going to create an environment fit for our children we need to put them - not motor vehicles - first.

“We are appealing to drivers to slow down to 20mph or less around homes, schools and shops, to local authorities to continue rolling out 20mph limits, and to national Government to make 20mph the national urban default.

“We need to make sure our kids and people of all ages - not just the lucky few - can walk and cycle without being endangered."

 

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We have created a "walking taxi" where the parents and carers identify their preferred routes and we give advice and if necessary training on the junctions that concern them the most. We also use the street side opportunity to advise on how they can teach their own children to read the road and cross safely.

They then can take their children to school by foot more confidently and will pair up with another family to take turns to walk a small group (up to 5) to school. This is done by friendships mainly. In Central London this works better than the bus as children approach school from so many directions that it is difficult to determine a bus route. Our authority did suggest all parents would need DBS checks (formerly CRB) as it was an "official" scheme but we came back with the arguement that we were only training adults and how they used that training was down to them.
Peter Westminster

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
+4

As a child being born and brought up in North London in the late forties into the fifties, traffic was ever present. That there was a speed limit in force never entered my mind – why should it? We learnt how to cross the road both at home and school, and there was the ‘Lolly-Pop’ lady outside the school entrance to shepherd us across to the school gate.

I do feel the walking bus idea prevents children from becoming aware of their surroundings, and the need to be aware of traffic – at any speed. Such seems to be the cocooning of children instead of teaching awareness and personal responsibility when out and about. We all want to protect our children from harm, but rather like using a television set as baby sitter, what is the longer term result? The safety in numbers game only works for those in the centre of a convoy/herd.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)
+2

Eric
I think its you that are trying to "cocoon" drivers from the "reality of life". Kids need to move around independently. They are the reality and its adults who need to have a duty of care to ensure that their independent mobility is safe and convenient.

I don't subscribe to an aspiration of "Utopia" but merely one where society values and protects the vulnerable rather than pandering to the "strong and fast". But you are correct in identifying that views on dressing up kids and walking them in convoys to get to school would be one that shows the differences in our personal opinions about road safety.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (12) | Disagree (5)
+7

Rod King's comment indicates just how far his thinking is away from road safety, and is instead rooted in some utopian land where children are cocooned from the realities of life. Walking buses are a brilliant innovation, started in the UK at the junior school from which my children had just moved up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walking_Buses)
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (8) | Disagree (14)
-6

Convoys are for collective protection in war zones. There can be no better indication of the failure of our transport policies to provide for the safe independent mobility of children than the idea that they need to walk in convoys to get from home to school.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (13) | Disagree (13)
0