The Scottish Executive working with Sustrans a leading sustainable transport charity, is taking an holistic approach to improving walking and cycling to schools. Various initiatives are in progress and more are planned and it is claimed that children returning to school this month will start to notice the difference.
The Transport, Health and Education Directorates of the Executive are working together to encourage children to travel to school in ways that benefit both their health and the environment. Some 60 per cent of Scottish schools are developing or implementing a travel plan. Funding has been provided for new and improved walking and cycling links, ensuring that more children have a safe route to school. Some 180 schools are benefiting from features like cycle parking and parent waiting areas, with many schools installing bike lockers and storage spaces for wet clothes and helmets. The evidence is already showing that where a comprehensive range of programmes is in place, the more likely children are to walk and cycle to school.
In response to data showing that walking and cycling to school decreases as children move from primary to secondary school, Sustrans in partnership with the Scottish Executive, Scottish Health Promoting Schools Unit, and three local authorities, are working to limit this trend. With the help of pupils a year ahead of them, primary pupils about to make the transition to secondary school were shown how to travel to their new schools on foot or by bike.
Another pioneering project about to be launched is a new school travel DVD, which will be available to all schools in Scotland from September. This free education resource promotes the benefits of walking and cycling to school and explains why a school travel plan is important. It looks into the problems different types of schools face when trying to achieve safer routes to school for pupils and how schools might overcome these barriers.