The Cross-Party Group on the Active Travel Act has published a toolkit on how to encourage children to walk and cycle to school in Wales.
Huw Irranca-Davies MS for Ogmore, chair of the Cross-Party Group, said: “I am delighted to be launching this toolkit. It is the culmination of a long process of discussion and engagement involving over 100 organisations and individuals – adults and children – from across Wales. It sets out all the reasons why we need to change and suggests ways of making walking and cycling to school easier and more attractive.
“The solutions range from ambitious new paths to something as simple as making sure children have somewhere to store wet weather gear. The Toolkit points to lots of good practice that is already happening in schools across Wales. But we need to do much more.
“The school run as we do it now causes immense problems; our guide for increasing walking, cycling or scooting to school is packed with solutions. We are not saying it is always easy. Not all schools will be able to do everything, but we hope most will be able to do something.”
More children walking, cycling or scooting to school instead of travelling by car would help:
– Children’s health – we need our children to be more physically active, Wales has the lowest levels of physical activity in the UK. Our sedentary lifestyles increase the likelihood of obesity and long-term illnesses such as diabetes type 2
– Readiness to learn – evidence shows that children who walk or cycle to school are more attentive in class
– Climate Change – cars are a major contributor to climate-changing emissions. Transport accounts for 16% of Wales’ carbon emissions
– Improve Air Quality – emissions from motor vehicles, particularly nitrogen dioxide, is a serious threat to health. Wales has significant air quality problems, some of the worst outside London
– Build stronger communities – children who walk, scoot or cycle develop stronger links with their local environment. Parking outside schools has become a source of conflict for many schools and their neighbours
– Reduce Congestion – all motorists will have noticed the difference in rush hour driving during school holidays. The motorised school run puts considerable strain on our busy roads
The launch of the toolkit took place at 10.00 am today, 13th October at Penyrheol Primary School, Frampton Rd, Gorseinon, Swansea SA4 4LY. The school recently won the 2021 Sustrans Big Pedal Award and has built active travel into the school’s culture. It has a lunchtime cycle club and has invested in its own fleet of bikes.
Headteacher Allison Williams said: “At Penyrheol Primary School we have a range of cycling and scootering opportunities that are available to all children from Nursery to Year 6 both during curriculum provision and at play and lunchtime. Children are encouraged to use their own bikes and scooters during the day to make that active journey to school even more worthwhile using their own and school equipment.
“A number of fun events throughout the school year seek to encourage more families to invest in taking the time and trouble to walk, scooter or cycle to school each day. Getting our children to be more active has been good for them and good for the school.”