Primary school children in Wales would like better and safer routes to school, and three quarters would like more involvement in deciding how to make streets safer for walking and cycling.
The ‘School Journeys’ report is based on a survey of nearly 1,000 primary school pupils and was produced by Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, and Sustrans Cymru, a sustainable transport charity.
52% of those surveyed either walk or cycle/scoot to school but of those who travel by car or bus, almost a quarter cited fears over road safety as a reason for using motorised transport.
Issues brought up by the children included narrow lanes, busy roads, roads with no crossing points, poor signage and cars speeding.
The results of the survey also show that ‘70 or so’ children mentioned lack of suitable paths as a barrier to them walking, cycling or scooting. In some cases, children indicated that there was no path at all, while in other cases the comments related to improving the quality of paths.
DfT stats published in November highlighted that nearly half of parents accompany children to school because of traffic safety fears.
The ‘School Journeys’ survey also highlights that more than three quarters (78%) of children surveyed felt that they should have a say in making the streets safer.
More than 100 children (10%) said that their school does not do anything to help and encourage them to walk or cycle to school. Of the schools that did help, the children said only 10% provided bike/scooter storage, 7% offered cycle lessons/tests, 4% had walking to school initiatives, 5% had parking controls and measures and 6% offered safety talks.
Sally Hollland, the report’s author, said: “78% of children think they should have a say in planning safer routes to school. I agree. The good news is that there are things that can be done to make things safer and easier to travel by bike, scooter or on foot to school.
“The Active Travel (Wales) Act specifies that local authorities must ask everyone in their area about making better routes for travelling by bike or on foot.
“We all want to ensure happier, healthier and safer children. We must ensure that children and young people are part of that discussion and I believe this report is a useful start which I hope will prompt others.”