The school run is accountable for nearly a quarter (24%) of traffic at peak times. With parents choosing to drive their children to school, even when healthier options may be available to them, contributing significantly to the financial drain that congestion places on businesses and the economy.
Sustrans Cymru, is now recruiting schools for its successful active travel programme which gives young people the opportunity to integrate physical activity into their everyday lives; as part of the school run. The Active Journeys programme, which is now open for applications, supports schools and local authorities to improve routes and organise a range of activities that develop a whole-school approach to active travel. The deadline for schools to join the programme is Monday 4 June 2018.
Fewer children being driven to school will create a better and safer environment for children and will help reduce gridlock for those driving in congestion hot spots. Recent reports state that childhood obesity is a major health issue in Wales, the worst in the UK, and a lack of physical activity is one of the main contributory factors. Against a backdrop of lifestyles that are increasingly sedentary, we need to give children as many opportunities as possible to exercise and lead a healthy lifestyle. The school run is the perfect time for this, not only is it a healthier way to travel, studies demonstrate that it leads to increased alertness and better concentration levels, resulting in improved academic performance.
Schools that have previously taken part in the programme have witnessed up to a 14% reduction in the number of children being driven to school.
Active Journeys was recently extended by the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates, who said:
The programme has “proven to be exceptionally successful in the schools that it's operated in, with 88% of respondents said that the number of pupils cycling to school had increased as a consequence of this programme.”
Hamish Belding, Schools Officer for South Wales, said:
“The programme works with schools across Wales to create a culture that makes it easier for children to walk, scoot or cycle. We work both with schools and local authorities to plan and improve routes alongside hosting a range of activities which help to build the confidence, enthusiasm and teach the skills needed to help form new active travel habits.