Headlines: May 24th, 2004

An improved website has been unveiled to coincide with a national Walk to School week, which begins today. The Safe Routes to Schools site is being operated by the sustainable transport organisation Sustrans. It has been re-launched with new features and information designed to support those interested in Safe Routes to Schools projects.The original site went online three years ago but since then there has been what the organisation calls a “phenomenal uptake” in the programme, which has seen two conferences held in Leicester and Belfast. The aim of the campaign is to encourage parents to walk to school with their children as often as possible during this week and beyond. Where it is practical, they are being encouraged to walk the whole route or to drive and walk part of the way, so school gates are kept clear of traffic.

The new website has practical information on both walking and cycling to school to raise awareness of issues including traffic and safety problems associated with the school-run, increasing child obesity from sedentary lifestyles, and the fact that many children prefer to be independent rather than car-dependent. It has been welcomed by teachers, children and local authorities involved in the scheme.

Mark Korczak, who is School Travel Plans Officer for Leicester City Council, said it was a great resource for transport practitioners acting as a one-stop shop for best practice, news and events and had a useful toolbox, which showed a major concern for the country’s future transport needs and was fast, concise and easy to use.

The site offers registered users a chance to share their knowledge and expertise in the ‘Routes Community’ via message boards. There are also features allowing them to find out what’s going on with other projects around the UK and to view case studies and download fact sheets. The website is at www.saferoutestoschools.org.uk