Headlines: January 22nd, 1999

A new group of professionals with a track record in school transport issues has been set up to help the Government promote alternatives to short car journeys.The School Travel Advisory Group will be tasked to come up with ideas to encourage getting to school by bike, foot or public transport, leading to less congestion and improved air quality.

The Government says it understands the concerns of parents who want to see their children taken to school safely, but points to the health dangers in using cars. The significant increase in the numbers of children being taken to school by car over the last few years has been linked to increases in diseases like childhood asthma as a result of increased car use.

STAG will work to raise the profile of school travel issues and take the lead in dissemination of the lessons learnt from local initiatives already in progress. STAG will also aim to identify practical ways of reducing car use and to ensure that policy and initiatives affecting school travel are integrated across the fields of transport, health and education.

Members have been drawn from the DETR, Department of Health, DfEE, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland offices, plus a range of senior council officers drawn from education and road safety units.

There is also parent and teacher representation, and from businesses working in this area.