Safer routes key to getting more children walking to school – Living Streets

13.01 | 7 February 2018 | | | | 7 comments

Living Streets is demanding action to reverse a decline in walking, on the back of new statistics showing fewer pupils are walking to school in Wales.

The Welsh Government data shows that 44% of children ‘actively traveled’ (walked or cycled) to primary school in 2016/17 – compared to 50% in 2013/14.

Living Streets also points to figures highlighting that 78% of primary school children who live less than a kilometre from their school ‘sometimes’ walk, compared to just 26% who live between 1-2 kms away.

Attributing the overall reduction to a fall in the number of children walking to school on their own or with friends, the charity is calling for a raft of safety measures to make parents and pupils ‘feel safer’.

Rachel Maycock, manager at Living Streets Cymru, said: “Wales passed its first Active Travel Act back in 2013. At the time, it seemed to be a fantastic signal that the Welsh Government had their priorities straight. But the lack of action since is evident in these disappointing figures.

“Safer crossings, school street closures and 20mph limits are all ways to help parents feel safer walking to school.”

Living Streets campaigns to get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits of walking. Among its initiatives for children is ‘WOW’, a year-round challenge which rewards those who walk to school at least once a week with collectable badges.

Living Streets says the initiative can increase walking rates by 23% – with a corresponding drop in car use.

Recently, as part of WOW in the West Midlands, Andy Street, the region’s mayor, joined pupils from Glebefields Primary School (Tipton) to celebrate the strides they’ve made to get healthier (featured image).

After accompanying children and parents on their walk to school, the mayor presided over a special assembly to hand out badges to pupils.

Andy Street said: “I’m thrilled to be joining families on their walk to school and to celebrate the achievements of these pupils. It’s great to see the impact Living Streets’ work is having with so many children taking to their feet.”


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    Guzzi, I think that we can conclude that Pat knows what he is talking about. If I am right it’s about inner conflict, politics or financing ie general funding for different criteria between two or more parties with differing criteria and not overlapping well. There may be a conflict between what the road safety officers are working towards and what the health authorities want in relation to children’s health. Two authorities working towards the same ends where there is an inevitable overlap and never the twain will meet even though some of their objectives are ending the same.

    bob craven
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    Interesting conclusion Peter. There is hardly any policy comment in the thread on which to come to that conclusion.

    Guzzi, Newport
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    Road safety education for children has included safety when walking and cycling for more than 50 years. Education is a factor in road casualty reduction, that’s why we do it. Of course walking and cycling tick the box for active travel and wellbeing as well and these can contribute to the Health sector plans to tackle obesity. But the road safety education funding terms of reference are predominantly about reducing road casualties. Tackling obesity has its own funding stream and whilst the two are getting closer and have areas of overlap, the funding criteria are NOT the same. Until UK governments restructure the various funding streams to merge the two better than now, road safety will continue to focus its limited resources on road casualty reduction, with tackling obesity as a supplementary benefit to road safety. Give road safety the health budget and we will do both.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

    Reading this thread it is easy to conclude that professionals have run out of ideas as well as money. Nobody can be satisfied with our activity and obesity stats and every last ounce of our energy should be directed to the health of the next generation, rather than points scoring and infighting.

    Peter Treadgold, London
    Agree (0) | Disagree (3)

    I don’t think highways authorities are scared of anything except a lack of funding.

    Guzzi, Newport
    Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

    I would assume that Living Streets have tried the cooperative approach but Highways Authorities are too scared of the big car lobby.

    Paul Luton, TEDDINGTON
    Agree (1) | Disagree (6)

    We all know the statistics – or can find them easily if we want to.
    Nothing in this article/quote about what has been done and what is being done by Welsh Government and Local Authorities.
    I thought Living Streets liked working with partners. Seems they prefer to take a ‘pop’ at them. This is probably a good example of how NOT to win friends and influence people.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (13) | Disagree (2)

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