And on to bikes. Oh, and buses, too. As previewed by this site yesterday, the pro-cyclist Secretary of Education (a former chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group) and the pro-cyclist Secretary of Transport (a former politico in pro-bike Edinburgh) have today jointly announced a two-year cash splurge on 'safe routes to school.'

Depts of Education and Transport to spend £50m on getting school-kids out of cars

New plans to boost walking, cycling and bus travel to school, and tackle congestion around the school run were announced today by Education Secretary Charles Clarke and Transport Secretary Alistair Darling.

‘Travelling to School: – an action plan’ will help schools promote safe and healthy travel to school. The Government is providing over £50m over the next 2 years to help support the plans.

The action plan asks schools and local authorities to work together to:

• Put in place a school travel plan over the next few years, consulting parents, pupils and local transport organisations. Should cover safer routes to school, road crossings, local speed restrictions, dedicated cycle ways, and secure cycle storage.

• Develop road safety skills, particularly at primary schools.

• Use geography, PSHE, citizenship and other lessons to explain the benefits of sustainable travel;

The Government will provide funding to support sustainable school travel by:

• Providing £7.5m per year for at least 2 years to fund more local authority based school travel advisers who will help schools carry out surveys and prepare plans;

• Allocating £5,000 for a typical primary school and £10,000 for a typical secondary, through DfES’s capital programme, to help schools upgrade their travel facilities.

Announcing the action plan, Charles Clarke said:

“Twice as many children are driven to school now in comparison with 20 years ago – around 40% of primary pupils and 20% of secondary pupils. Most of these journeys are less than 2 miles.

“Increased car use also means falling numbers of children walking or cycling with serious health implications in terms of lack of daily exercise and a growing proportion of children who are overweight.

“That is why we want to encourage schools and local education authorities to use these ideas to make walking, cycling and bus travel safe, realistic options for more schools and their pupils."

Alistair Darling said:

“At ten to nine in the morning around one in five cars on the road is on the school run and we are all aware of the extra congestion this causes in the rush hour peak.

“The action plan seeks to help schools and pupils beat the traffic and improve the health and fitness of primary and secondary school children across the country.

Paul Osborne, the coordinator of the Safe Routes to Schools programme at Sustrans, responded positively to the action plan:

"Sustrans is delighted that transport and education ministers are joining forces to promote alternatives to school journeys made by car. Every child should have the right to a safe and healthy route to school and this is a significant step forward."

Travelling to School: an action plan:

Travelling to School: a good practice guide:…/schooltravel

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