We are proud to announce that we have won a Road Safety Award for our Active School Travel (AST) Programme and been highly commended in two other award categories. This project, which encourages more primary school pupils to cycle, scoot and walk safely to school, was recognised today in the Northern Ireland Road Safety Awards.
The three-year programme, which is funded by the Department for Regional Development and the Public Health Agency until July 2016 and has been working with nearly 200 schools across Northern Ireland, won the award because it has helped to improve children’s road safety awareness and skills.
Our Schools Officers' imaginative engagement with pupils, parents and teachers has seen a sustained increase in the number of pupils travelling actively.
“ Our Schools Officers' imaginative engagement with pupils, parents and teachers has seen a sustained increase in the number of pupils travelling actively. ”
The expert panel of judges praised the AST Programme for, “Educating young people in a practical way, best shown in their Bikeability on-road cycle training which has to date trained 1,328 children.”
As well as promoting behaviour change, the programme emphasises road safety through information and practical activities, such as Bikeability on-road cycle training and special events highlighting the importance of visibility on the journey to school.
Short-listed for two more awards.
We were also short-listed in two other categories – voluntary sector and business (in conjunction with the Freight Transport Association).
“ Safety on our roads is a key issue preventing more people walking and cycling for their everyday journeys. ”
Gordon Clarke, Sustrans Northern Ireland Director, said:
“We are delighted that our work has been recognised in the Road Safety Awards. As well as our schools work, we worked with the FTA to develop the Safe Urban Driving Course to improve lorry drivers’ awareness of cyclists as they are particularly vulnerable around HGVs.”
Seamus Leheny from the FTA said:
“The Freight Transport Association are delighted to be a finalist. Drivers that have taken part in this scheme to date have found it to be extremely informative and as a result we are helping make Belfast city centre and other urban areas a safer place.”
School run traffic is a major source of congestion.
The number of children being driven to school fell from 53% to 45% after just one year in the Active School Travel Programme, with a corresponding rise in the numbers walking or cycling to school.
One fifth of rush hour congestion in Northern Ireland is caused by parents driving children to school. We found the vast majority of pupils – 84% of children we surveyed - want to travel actively to school, and over half of those want to travel by bike.
We would encourage government to invest in 20mph zones around schools, on-road cycle training for every child and improving infrastructure – such as toucan crossings and cycle lanes – to give parents the confidence to allow their children to get to school safely by themselves.