UK cities ‘too unsafe’ for children to walk to school – Living Streets

12.00 | 15 May 2017 | | 3 comments

New figures show that 30% of parents living in 11 of the UK’s biggest cities believe their city is ‘too unsafe’ for children to walk to school.

The figures – published by the charity Living Streets as Walk to School Week 2017 (15-19 May) gets underway – come from a poll of 2,200 parents living in cities including London, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

Living Streets is calling for urban authorities to prioritise making school walking routes safer, in order to help prevent problems including child obesity, air pollution and a lack of physical activity.

Walk to School Week (15-19 May) is an annual event organised by Living Streets to highlight how swapping four wheels for two feet makes children feel healthier and happier, while reducing congestion and pollution outside the school gates.

Tomorrow (16 May) is ‘Happy Shoesday’, when primary school pupils, parents and teachers across the country raise money for the charity’s walking projects, by wearing their ‘happy shoes’ and donating £1.

Previous research by Living Streets also shows that nearly 60% of parents are worried about speeding cars outside schools, while a third have concerns about their child’s safety because of overcrowding outside school gates. Living Streets says 82% of parents think there should be more schemes to make the walk to school safer and easier.

Living Streets says that following a ‘generation-long decline’ in the number of children walking to primary school (from 70% to 47%), the Government has ‘finally recognised the importance of walking to school’ and set a new national target to get 55% of children walking to primary school by 2025.

Joe Irvin, CEO, Living Streets, said: “The walk to school is a great way for children to get active in the mornings. It’s easy, free, accessible and it can be fun too. It’s essential that city leaders make all of our streets, including those around schools, safe places to walk, by installing 20mph speed limits and safety crossings.

“We know that a lot of parents avoid walking to school because of high levels of traffic outside the school gates. The more of us walking to school, the safer conditions will be, so this week we’re asking families to give walking a go for Walk to School Week.”

Want to know more about children and road safety?
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory


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    How can getting kids out of cars in the early morning and making them walk the two miles or so to school be making then healthier and happier? With all the pollution about surely its safer for breathing purposes to be in a car for 5 minutes rather than the half an hour or so it takes to walk. If cars are travelling too fast around or past schools then why is it that no one in authority has considered the 20 is plenty scheme. It seems an ideal solution that has been staring authorities in the face for generations. Drivers will in general slow down at a flashing school plus 20 mph sign if they see or feel that it is justified and schools and hospitals are a few places that it will and/or do work.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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    I fully support more children walking to school more often, no problem with that at all and we do all we can to encourage more walking and protect our children. However we just need to be careful that the road safety measures Living Streets and others also asked for do correspond to the evidence of the problem. For example on the walking journey to school, accident statistics records indicate that the least likely place to have an ‘accident’ is right outside the school gates. There are undoubtedly several reasons for this but I’m only writing a comment, not a technical paper.

    Pat, Wales
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    It’s a bit ‘tabloidish’ when an attention-grabbing headline is not actually borne out by the expanded news item that follows.

    Another conclusion from the same survey might be: “70% of parents don’t think that their city’s streets are unsafe to walk to school”

    Unfortunately, lots of organisations are guilty of this and it does not help their credibility. It’s like the media saying ‘Britain wants out of the EU!’ when in fact roughly only half of those who actually voted, expressed the wish to leave. (Other topical news stories are available – that was just an example)

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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