Urban authorities urged to make school routes safer for walking

Walk to School Week

Living Streets is calling on urban authorities to prioritise making school walking routes safer, after publishing new figures which show that 30% of parents living in the UK’s biggest cities believe their city is ‘too unsafe’ for children to walk to school.

The figures – published by the charity as Walk to School Week 2017 (15-19 May) gets underway – come from a poll of 2,200 parents living in 11 of the UK’s biggest cities, including London.

Living Streets says making routes safer for children walking to school would help to help prevent problems including child obesity, air pollution and a lack of physical activity.

Walk to School Week (15-19 May) is an annual event organised by Living Streets to highlight how swapping four wheels for two feet makes children feel healthier and happier, while reducing congestion and pollution outside the school gates.

Tomorrow (16 May) is ‘Happy Shoesday’, when primary school pupils, parents and teachers across the country raise money for the charity’s walking projects, by wearing their ‘happy shoes’ and donating £1.

Previous research by Living Streets also shows that nearly 60% of parents are worried about speeding cars outside schools, while a third have concerns about their child’s safety because of overcrowding outside school gates. Living Streets says 82% of parents think there should be more schemes to make the walk to school safer and easier.

Living Streets says that following a ‘generation-long decline’ in the number of children walking to primary school (from 70% to 47%), the Government has ‘finally recognised the importance of walking to school’ and set a new national target to get 55% of children walking to primary school by 2025.

Joe Irvin, CEO, Living Streets, said: “The walk to school is a great way for children to get active in the mornings. It’s easy, free, accessible and it can be fun too. It’s essential that city leaders make all of our streets, including those around schools, safe places to walk, by installing 20mph speed limits and safety crossings.

“We know that a lot of parents avoid walking to school because of high levels of traffic outside the school gates. The more of us walking to school, the safer conditions will be, so this week we’re asking families to give walking a go for Walk to School Week.”

15 May 2017