A recent survey commissioned by Sustrans found that 81% of London parents say it’s essential local authorities now take steps to make it easier for families to walk and cycle to school.
Our London Director, James Austin, explains why we need to do more encourage families to walk, cycle, scoot and wheel the school run. And why it's crucial we avoid a car-led recovery from Covid-19.
New YouGov research commissioned by Sustrans this Bike to School Week (28 September – 2 October) shows that 81% of parents in London want councils to make it easier for families to walk and cycle to school.
Asked if they enjoyed their route to school, 47% of London parents said they enjoyed it, higher than every other region in England.
And 53% of London parents said they disliked it and the number one reason was congestion.
With our help, a school in Lambeth transformed the space outside the school gates to make it safer for children to walk, scoot and cycle.
London's progress in making it easier to walk and cycle
With Transport for London (TfL) funding 430 new School Streets across the capital and with 64 new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods now in place, London is ahead of the rest of the UK in making it easier for people to walk and cycle.
The bolder action taken by TfL and councils in London over the past few months is reflected in the YouGov responses, with a third of parents saying they had noticed changes made to the built environment.
In the rest of the UK, eight in ten parents said they had not noticed a change.
More children walked to school in London (47%) prior to the pandemic than in any other region in the UK.
This trend has continued during the pandemic, with even more London families walking to school than elsewhere in the country (62% compared with 52% UK-wide).
We need to make roads safer
Sustrans London Director, James Austin said:
"Nearly half London households don’t have access to a car so TfL and councils have a duty of care to make the capital’s streets accessible to everyone, and that, importantly, includes children.
“The vast majority of parents in London want councils to make it easier for children to walk and cycle to school.
"London is ahead of the rest of the UK in rolling out changes to help create streets where families can feel safe cycling or walking to school.
"But we still desperately need more people to ditch the car for the school run.
"With congestion the top reason for people not enjoying the school run, helping more people to walk and cycle by making the roads safer is a no-brainer.”
Avoiding a car-led recovery from Covid-19
The Mayor of London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, said:
"It’s more important than ever that families walk or cycle to school so it’s great that so many Londoners support our new School Streets and other Streetspace measures, and are making the most of them.
"We are working constructively with the vast majority of councils to make it safer and easier to do the school run on foot, by bike or even by scooter.
"This latest data shows these changes are not only necessary to avoid a damaging car-led recovery, but are also what Londoners want."
Before, the same school in Lambeth (pictured at top of article) was gridlocked at drop-off and pick-up times.
Improving air quality around schools
Secondary School teacher Suzanne Colangelo-Lillis, who has just begun cycling to school, said:
"I never thought I would have the confidence to get to school by bike.
"But I practised over the summer and have found that it’s a joy.
"Now more than ever, councils need to make it easier for families to feel safe to walk and cycle to school to prevent gridlock, tackle childhood obesity and improve the air around our schools that children breathe."