Image: TfL via Twitter.
More than 100 schools across London are marking World Car Free Day today (22 Sept) by encouraging parents and carers to permanently substitute their car journeys to school for walking or cycling.
As part of World Car Free Day, which sets out to improve air quality, some schools have set up ‘car-free zones’ near their gates, while others have created ‘park and stride’ locations where parents park a distance from the school and walk the rest of the way.
Some schools are using ‘walking buses’ where children join an organised walk to school. The ‘buses’ pick up ‘passengers’ on the way as they learn about looking after the environment.
According to research commissioned by the Mayor of London into the health impacts of cars in the Capital, air pollution is a significant health issue with some of the worst pollution hotspots being around schools located on busy and congested roads.
A separate report published earlier this week called on the authorities to undertake ‘serious and coordinated action’ to protect the most vulnerable school children in London from air pollution.
Commissioned by the FIA Foundation, the Aether report shows the combination of health factors facing children in the most polluted London schools – including social deprivation, obesity and lower levels of activity.
Transport for London (TfL) says one in three car trips made by Londoners could be walked in under 25 minutes, and is using the day the promote its ‘STARS’ programme which encourages active and safer travel to school.
TfL says STARS has been ‘hugely successful’, growing from 180 participating schools in 2007 to 1,430 in 2017 and achieving an average 6% decrease in car use for journeys to school over the same period.
Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “Walking and cycling to school is a great way to get active and tackle London’s toxic air crisis.
“On this World Car Free Day, and beyond, I would encourage as many Londoners as possible to give up four wheels in favour of going by foot or by bike.”
Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said: “It’s great to see future generations using our STARS programme and World Car Free Day to make the school run green.”