Statistics from the Department of Transport reveal that road traffic in Britain grew by 80 per cent between 1980 and 2005, and the number of children travelling to school in cars has doubled over the last 20 years. There is concern that this trend is contributing to reduced physical activity in children and an increase in childhood obesity levels, urban congestion and air pollution. The school-run accounts for a sizeable chunk of rush-hour traffic. It causes congestion, pollution and increases the risk of accident by or around schools, especially when rules of the highway are ignored, for that prime 'drop off' or parking spot.
If more families were able to walk to school more often, then communities would experience the environmental and health benefits associated with fewer vehicles on the roads in their neighbourhood.
Walk to School Week is celebrated annually in schools across Dudley. With some schools supporting other events such as Travelwise Week and International Walk to School Week.
Still not sure if it's a good idea to Walk to School? Here are some of the benefits for children and parents.
- Start young - Regular walking from a young age means children grow up with this good healthy habit for life.
- Good Physical Health - Regular exercise helps to keep children healthier and reduces risk of obesity which can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health issues
Good mental health - Research shows that walking helps children sleep well and be less stressed which makes them happier
Social Skills and Independence - Walking to school is sociable for children and helps them become more independent.
Road Sense - By walking to school children develop and gain a greater 'road-sense', learning about risk and therefore how to look after themselves and be safe.
Ready to learn - Walking to school helps children to feel more wide awake for the start of the school day and therefore more ready to learn. Indeed some walk to school schemes have lead to improved attendance and punctuality which also leads to improved learning.
Pollution - Is reduced if more children walk. Air quality and particulate matter are especially relevant in and around schools and cities
Congestion - By reducing the number of cars travelling to school, the roads in the area become safer for everyone, especially around the school gates.
Walking Buses are a fun interactive way for children to walk to school as a group under the supervision of at least two volunteers. By working on a rota system it can save parents/carers having to take their children to school every day.
If interested in this, please discuss in the first instance with your child's school to ensure that all processes to make this viable are followed.
You could set up an informal ‘bus’ with friends and neighbours. Taking turns to walk your children to school or walk with your friends.
Park and Walk
If you need to use your car try parking further afield in a less congested area and walk for the last few hundred metres or so. Many of the advantages as noted above can still be achieved.
Please refer to the Road Safety Education and Training section of this site, to view the various Pedestrian and Road Safety advice and information, that is available to individuals and/or schools in the Dudley Borough.
Training and assistance in setting up and running a walking bus can be provide by Dudley Council’s Road Safety & Travel Awareness Team
If you are a parent (or teacher) interested in getting involved with helping to run a walking bus please contact us using our details below.