Road safety fears stop children from walking to school

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A survey of more than 1,000 parents has revealed the reasons why more children do not walk or cycle to school

8th January 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Safety fears have been cited as a major reason why more children don’t walk or cycle to school.

New research has revealed that parents prevent their children from making their own way to school as they fear for their safety.

The School Travel Survey for Parents, released today Monday, 8 January) by Sustrans Scotland and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC), questioned more than 1,000 parents from across the country.

It found that 42% of parents felt that unsafe walking and cycling routes, a lack of or inadequate pavements, ineffective or lack of crossings, unsafe school entrances and dangerous driving were all major factors which prevented their children from walking, cycling or scootering to school.

Around a third of parents also said a lack of cycle routes was a barrier for their child travelling actively to school each day.

“These findings formalise what we have been hearing anecdotally from parents and teachers for some time,” said Sustrans Scotland’s Lynn Stocks.

“Increasing the number of pupils travelling actively to school is a simple way of providing children with the moderate intensity of exercise required every day. However it is clear that as long as parents feel that these journeys are not safe, they will be unwilling for their children to travel actively.”

Eileen Prior, executive director of the SPTC, said: “Parents often get conflicting messages. They are expected simultaneously to be responsible for keeping their children safe, for ensuring they are fit and active, and very often, for getting to work on time.

“These pressures often lead to a vicious circle of competing imperatives. For instance, we know driving too close to schools to drop off children actually creates danger in many ways. Schemes which encourage parents to park and walk some distance away from school gates, or walking buses, help children to be healthy and remove congestion from outside schools.”

We have had a couple of near misses around the school

Karen Van Zon tries to walk or cycle with her three children to and from primary school every day.

Their journey to school takes the family along a busy trunk road and across a number of junctions and crossings.

However, despite there being a shared use cycling and walking path running alongside the trunk road, Karen is reluctant to let her children make the trip to school on their own, due to the lack of safe infrastructure in the final few streets before the school.

She said: “The last section before the school is really quite dangerous. There are a lot of junctions and crossings and is exceptionally busy at school drop off and pick up times with parents driving their children to and from school.

“We have had a couple of near misses from drivers not paying attention when parking and reversing around the school entrance.

“And whilst children can be taught to handle busy traffic, they can’t anticipate reversing cars, cars blocking pavements or cars blocking visual splays and sight lines.”