Pupils march for safer roads

07.59 | 26 June 2019 | | 3 comments

Primary school children across the UK are taking to the streets today (26 June) to call for improved safety measures to reduce the dangers they face on the journey to school.

More than 65,000 pupils, aged between four and 11 years, are expected to take part in Brake’s Kids Walk – which is organised by the road safety charity to raise awareness of the 45 children killed or injured on UK roads every day.

Children from the 400 participating schools will take park in a short, supervised walk – in a crocodile formation and holding hands to highlight the importance of being able to walk without fear or threat from traffic.

They will be calling for five measures to keep them safe near roads: footpaths, cycle paths, safe places to cross, slow traffic and clean traffic.

Particiapting schools will also run special road-safety-themed assemblies, lessons and activities, using free resources featuring Shaun the Sheep and his friends.

Dave Nichols, community engagement manager for Brake, said: “Every child should be able to walk in their community without fear of traffic and pollution. 

“Unfortunately, many kids are unable to do so because they don’t have access to simple measures such as footpaths, cycle paths and safe places to cross. Many more must contend with fast traffic and pollution from vehicle emissions. 

“If we want children and their families to walk, we need to make sure their journeys are safe. 

“We’re delighted that so many schools and children across the UK agree with us on this and are taking part in Brake’s Kids Walk. Together we can raise awareness about the issues that matter to them and help make their roads safer.”

‘The true extent of child casualties’
To mark this year’s walk, Brake has ‘highlighted the true extent of child casualties on the nation’s roads’ by analysing the latest DfT child casualty figures.

The figures show that 16,566 children were killed or injured on roads in England in 2017, an average of 45 each day – more than a full classroom.

London saw the greatest number of child road casualties (2,397), with an average of 46 children killed or injured as a result of road crashes every week. 

In the Capital, there was a 16% rise in the number of casualties between 2016 and 2017 – meaning an additional 334 children were killed or injured.



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    The guidelines referenced by Richard Hall have been shown to be sadly lacking. Hants CC has refrained from withdrawing school buses in spite of an assessment undertaken by its Road Safety Team using the Road Safety GB guidelines showing the proposed walking route as safe. Road safety professionals in the Basingstoke area outside of the local authority have clearly demonstrated that the guidelines are far from robust and that a route assessed as safe using the guidelines is clearly not.

    Rob, Basingstoke
    Agree (1) | Disagree (5)

    Encouraging children and their parents to use sustainable travel to school is an important step in reducing air pollution in our towns and cities. It also reduces congestion on local roads, particularly around schools and allows children to develop their road safety skills as active road users rather than being passive in a car driven by a parent. Whilst local authorities can help create a safer environment for vulnerable road users each child, and the route they take, is different. As a child grows and develops their ability to manage the particular roads they need use will change. Clearly, it is not possible to assess every child’s route each year, and so it remains a parent’s responsibility to ensure their children get to school safely and decide when they are able to cope with more independent travel on that particular route.

    Generally children under the age of 10 lack the life experience to accurately judge distance and speed of approaching traffic. Anything that can help children enhance their development of these skills is encouraged by Road Safety GB, including parents involving their children in the discussions around decision making at the road side and structured, practical pedestrian training.

    Road Safety GB supports the government’s Child Pedestrian Strategy which lays the responsibility for child pedestrian safety firmly at the door of drivers; adults who control large, heavy objects. We also want to see effective practical pedestrian training available for all children. Road Safety GB also encourages parents to accept the responsibility of their children while out and about near the Highway.

    The Road Safety GB guidelines for the assessment of walked routes to school are a test for whether a child living under the statutory distance is eligible for free transport to school, and are based on case law and a robust method of assessment within the parameters for this. They are not used as a risk assessment for every child’s walking journey to school.

    Road Safety GB have also developed guidelines for assessing cycling routes to school. These are to help officers (with the relevant skills) carry out assessments on journeys to and from school that could be used for cycling. This may be a one off assessment on a single route or part of a larger scheme looking a multiple routes into a school or schools. The document provides a method of assessing a route for its suitability for children to cycle and requires appropriately aged to children to be involved in the assessment.

    Richard Hall, Road Safety GB (Working group lead for the assessment of walking route and cycle route guidelines)
    Agree (3) | Disagree (3)

    Given that it’s Roadsafety GB’s guidance which is used by local authorities to define safe walking routes then clearly if there’s a problem with what walking routes look like then maybe the current guidelines need to be reviewed, is this due to happen?

    Given the increased focus on air quality, obesity & the need to reduce car use maybe there’s a need for a policy which includes:
    – measures to evaluate air quality
    – requirements for at least some Cycle provision (especially for those over 2 miles) with the whole route being suitable to push a cycle, Cycle provision to include the use of quiet roads (which need a definition of what that looks like, as an example less than 500 two way traffic flow in peak hour)
    – requirement for the route to be assessed by an adult with a buggy with a suitable weight in it (what many parents who have younger children use when walking to school to accompany their school aged children)
    – crossing points to be assessed to check for capacity for 100% of children crossing or 120% of current users crossing (whichever is higher) to ensure that all those who wish to cross can do so within a 20 minute window
    – when routes are remote from roads or on roads with low traffic flows (such as, as an example, less than 25 vehicles in the peak hour) consideration to be given to what natural surveillance there is (as this is a basic requirement for parked cars, so why not children?).

    Graham, Basingstoke
    Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

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