“We’re stuck in a catch-22 where families see driving to school as the safest way to protect their children from traffic.”
That’s the assessment of Living Streets, reacting to the results of a survey published to mark the start of this year’s Walk to School Week.
The survey found traffic to be one of biggest barriers stopping children from walking to school, named by 15% of parents.
Schools being too far away from home (17.7%), having to go elsewhere afterwards (12%), pavement parking (11.4%) and lack of safe walking routes (10.7%) were other reasons cited by respondents.
Stephen Edwards, chief executive of Living Streets, said: “We’re stuck in a catch-22 where families see driving to school as the safest way to protect their children from traffic.
“Leaving the car at home will reduce chaos and road danger around the school gates. It’s also a great way for children to learn about road safety in a real life setting and build their confidence in managing risk.
“Walk to School Week is an excellent opportunity for families to give walking to school a go and reap the health and social benefits of moving more.”
Pupils encouraged to #PowerUp
This year’s Walk to School Week challenge, #PowerUp, will engage pupils through video game-inspired design, encouraging them to travel sustainably to school every day of the week.
Each day will see a level unlocked and a new mission to complete, through which pupils will discover the benefits of walking for individuals, communities and the planet.
The event is being supported across the country, and will look to build on last year, when more than 350,000 pupils took part.
In London, Newham Council will be visiting selected schools to highlight sustainable ways of enhancing the school journey and raising awareness of the benefits for pupils, parents and carers, the community and the planet.
Parents and carers who usually drive pupils to the school gates are being encouraged to ditch their vehicles, where possible, or even park further away and then walk and wheel to school.
The council says this will help ease congestion around the school, reduce air pollution and make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.