Walking and cycling charity Living Streets Scotland is calling for street improvements around schools ahead of them reopening to avoid gridlock and promote a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It comes after new data reveals record lows in the number of children walking to school pre-lockdown.
Sustrans’ Hands Up Scotland Survey shows that just 41% of primary school aged children were walking to school before the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the lowest recorded level. Whilst pupils being driven to school was at its highest recorded level since the survey began at 23.8%. (The survey was published on 18 June 2020, but conducted in September 2019).
Living Streets said it wants more local authorities to use available funding to implement measures to make walking to school more attractive, including 20mph limits, safer crossings and School Streets – which see cars banned from outside school gates at peak drop off and pick up times.
Stuart Hay, Director, Living Streets Scotland said: “These results are incredibly disappointing and shows that there is a lot of work to be done to make walking to school a viable option for families across Scotland. We know from our work with schools across Scotland that families are put off walking to school by traffic, road danger and air pollution. By removing cars, we remove these barriers.
“When pupils start to return, it’s crucial that our roads aren’t gridlocked and our schools surrounded by dirty air. And by giving space to people – not cars – we can ensure families can physically distance at pick-up and drop-off.
“School Streets have been successfully implemented by many Scottish local authorities and we want to see others using the funding made available during the pandemic to follow their lead. We need to come out of this crisis stronger than before and we won’t do that by replacing it with crises around inactivity, air pollution and road danger.”
Living Streets Scotland runs WOW – the year-round walk to school challenge in 22 Scottish local authorities. On average, schools which take part in WOW see a 23% increase in the number of children walking to school and a 30% decrease in the number of cars driving up to the school gates.
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