How schools can promote an active school run

Managing a safe school run during the Covid-19 pandemic presents a number of challenges for schools, staff and headteachers.

So we’ve put together some advice for schools on promoting active travel and using your space effectively to maintain social distance.


For pick-up and drop-off, schools will need to effectively manage timings and the space around the grounds.

For example, by staggering arrival and departure times, and making the best use of the roads around the school.

Many families have been enjoying walking, running, scooting and cycling as part of their daily exercise.

It’s a great opportunity to keep this going when schools go back.

Social distancing on the school run is easier than you think

Many of us have experienced how we can maintain distance from others while travelling actively, including making use of the quieter roads even if that is to briefly step into them to move around people.

Parked cars and traffic around the school makes it difficult to safely maintain distance.

Instead, space can be used to create active travel corridors.

The UK government has produced emergency statutory guidance for local authorities to do just this.

Why is an active school journey so important?

Surveys carried out as part of our Active Journeys programme in Wales show that pupils would prefer to travel actively if they were given the choice.

Children arrive at school fresh and ready to learn. The streets around the school are safer with less congestion.

It’s healthy for us all and it’s also good for the planet. And it doesn’t create air pollution around the school.

We think active travel will be an important tool in tackling Coronavirus. Collectively we will be healthier and stronger.

Studies have linked the severity of Covid-19 symptoms to poor air quality, which is made worse if there is lots of traffic around the school.

What schools can do

Contact Sustrans and your local authority about School Streets

Our School Streets programme tackles the congestion, poor air quality and road safety concerns that many schools experience.

We do this by restricting motor traffic at the school gates for a short period of time, generally at drop-off and pick-up times.

School Streets can help ensure physical distancing around the school.

Find out how you can change the street outside the school gate

Contact your local authority about the possibility of:

  • suspending parking bays
  • removing traffic lanes
  • discouraging through traffic or temporarily closing streets to traffic to allow for the widening of footways
  • pop-up cycle lanes and the development of a safe active travel network to the school.

If you're in Wales, contact our schools team as we may be able to support you to do this.

And if you're anywhere else in the UK, email our education team to find out more. 

Encourage families to travel actively

Encourage parents to choose active travel modes when their children return.

You could send a letter home, explaining the safety problems congestion around the school creates.

Share your local park-and-stride locations

Identify off-road park-and-stride locations, about 5-10 minutes walk away from the school.

This could be a supermarket or a council car park. If there's a charge, discuss an amnesty with the landowner during drop-off and pick-up times given the circumstances. Let parents know about it. 

Use marker cones

These are great for both inside and outside the school to encourage physical distancing.


Provide additional bike and scooter storage

Additional bike and scooter provide will allow pupils more space when they are arriving at school or collecting their bikes or scooters.

This could be as simple as allowing bikes and scooters to be parked against school walls and fences to avoid grouping.

Temporary storage does not need to be covered, it won’t do bikes or scooters any harm if they get a bit wet.

When bike storage is already available, clear procedures should be in place to ensure other children and staff do not come into contact with cycles and scooters.

For example, close bike sheds during core school hours after drop off.

Remind families to slow down

Remind children about slowing, stopping and giving space, especially those scooting and cycling.

Explain why they should do this and they will be more likely to listen.

Encourage parents to give older children some more responsibility

Encourage parents to give older children responsibility for getting themselves to and from school.

This helps their road confidence and reduces the number of people around the school.

How Sustrans can help

Our team of expert engineers may be able to help you establish a plan for managing the space around the school to ensure families can get to and home from school safely.

We can also liaise with your local authority to see how they can support your ambitions.

We can provide educational resources that help you maximise indoor and outdoor space for education.

This includes activities that reinforce current social distancing guidelines, build confidence and meet curriculum objectives. For core project schools, this might include on-site officer support.


If you're in Walesemail our schools team with any questions or ideas you have.

And for the rest of the UKplease contact your nearest Sustrans office.


Take a look at our Active Journeys programme in Wales.

Find out more about our School Streets programme and the big difference it can make.