When news happens, text CIT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Tackling 'school-run' traffic congestion in East Lancashire
ALMOST a quarter of the cars on our roads during rush hour are on the ‘school run’. Education Reporter EMMA CRUCES spoke to campaigners, councillors and schools about the ‘walk to school’ debate . . .
WITH the first week of September comes the true return of the morning rush hour after a six-week hiatus.
Blackburn councillor, Shaukat Hussain, has been dreading the return of congested junctions and cars parked outside schools.
The Bastwell councillor decided to take action after he heard about three minor accidents close to local schools in as many months at the end of the summer term.
Coun Hussain said he quickly discovered many children were driven from homes just a short walk away.
He said: “I am working with the police and with the schools but it seems to be an issue of culture.
“Parents are used to popping in the car for simply everything and the school run is falling victim to that culture.
“Around Cedar Primary School there were particular issues but they are working with me to speak to parents and children.
“Last term I was at the schools for rush hour in the mornings and you see many parents who live just around the corner.
“I am not saying the parked cars from parents are causing accidents but they don’t help and are a hazard. I just want to encourage more walking to school and if parents can walk with their child, then all the better.”
During the summer break, the Tauheedul Trust announced it would give each child at the new Blackburn boy’s school £150 to walk to school because of the health and traffic benefits.
Lancashire County Council is working with Living Streets, campaigners who organise walk to school events, to encourage more participation.
The last event saw dozens of schools across Lancashire take part and 12 schools also ran a once a week walk to school event.
Regional manager for Living Streets, Jenny Wiles, said 23 per cent of cars on the road were completing the school run.
She said: “We understand parents are busy but if they can only spare one day a week in which to walk to school, that alone makes a massive difference.
“Walking to School Month takes place in October and that really is an ideal time to try it out and see how it works for you. We underestimate walking, but it is fresh air, exercise and an opportunity to spend quality time together.
“Some of our schemes involve giving children collectable badges and that has seen a really impressive rise in the number of children walking to school.
“For parents, we know that some people live some distance away from school, so we can also operate a ‘park and stride’ scheme. This means parents park a walkable distance from school.
“Some parents are amazed at how that can be quicker because they skip all the congestion surrounding the school.”
Schools completing the Walk to School Once a Week - WOW scheme - include St John with St Augustine, Peel Park Primary School, St Annes and St Josephs in Accrington, Great Harwood Primary School, Oswaldtwistle West End Primary School, Casterton Primary, Barden Primary and St James Lanehead Primary and St John the Baptist RC Primary Burnley, Bradley Primary, Lomeshaye Junior School and Marsden Community Primary in Nelson.
Kieran Heakin, headteacher at St John the Baptist in Burnley said the once a week scheme had a profound effect on learning.
He said: “The children who walk to school learn a lot. It is amazing how much they advance with regular walks.
“They learn about the seasons and nature and the weather.
“They learn that when it rains, they get wet - and what is wrong with that? Children who are cooped up in a car don’t know how to cross the roads properly. They just have much less experience.
“It’s the kids who walk to school and who play out at night who are safest because they learn how to tackle traffic.
“Our motto is walk one day, drive one way, because we have voluntarily made Brent Street a one-way system. It’s all part of our traffic plan to cut congestion.
“Our walk to school day is Friday and we survey the kids to see who has walked to school. We offer a Friday breakfast and the children really enjoy the chance to catch up with friends while they walk. The class with the most walkers gets a Golden Boot trophy and it is getting very competitive now.
“We’ve seen the level of walkers rise from below 50 per cent to 80 per cent.”
Children and young people’s councillor for Lancashire County Council, Matthew Tomlinson said: “We encourage schools to have a travel plan and for that plan to include walking. With parents we stress it too because it is such a good opportunity for quality time.
“As a school governor myself I know how congested the streets around schools can become. The more we can get people using alternative means of getting to school the better.”
Comments are closed on this article.