Brake estimates that 100,000 children across the UK walked 60,000 miles as part of the charity’s 2015 Giant Walk (10 June).
Brake’s Giant Walk is an annual event in primary schools to help children learn about traffic pollution and danger, and transport choices. Schools taking part get their pupils to walk on pavements, or around the school’s grounds, on order to “tell drivers to slow down and look out for people on foot”.
A survey released to coincide with the event reveals “the extent to which children are being prevented from walking or cycling to school due to road danger”, according to Brake.
In the survey of 1,000 parents of children aged 5-11 years, only a quarter (25%) of respondents said the route between their home and school is safe enough for their children to walk or cycle unsupervised.
Road safety concerns came top of the list of factors preventing parents from letting their children walk or cycle, with 42% citing fast or high volumes of traffic, 40% a lack of safe crossing points, and 35% a lack of safe pavements, footpaths or cycle paths.
Only a quarter of respondents (25%) put the decision to drive down to distance or time, and only one in 12 (8%) to convenience. When asked what would make a difference when it comes to deciding whether to let their children walk or cycle to school, 40% said more safe routes, and 48% said crossing points.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “Recent reports have provided a stark warning about the potential consequences of the UK slipping further into a spiral of physical inactivity.
“The impacts will be felt hardest by our children, who could face a lifetime of poor health and have to pick up the bill for rising healthcare costs. This crisis can be averted, but we need urgent action.
“As is clear from the thousands taking part in Brake’s Giant Walk today, kids love to get out and about on foot and bike, and parents want to be able to let them.
“It is a national scandal that danger from fast traffic often prevents children from having the fun, active, healthy childhoods they deserve. We need drivers, including parents, to stick to 20mph or less in communities to protect kids.
“We also continue to campaign for government to make 20mph the national urban default and provided sustained funding for safe walking and cycling infrastructure. Safe active travel should be the norm for all our kids, not a luxury.”