Sustainable school travel focuses on finding alternative modes of transport to school, other than the car, such as walking, cycling, car sharing and public transport.
Walking is still the most popular way of travelling to and from school. Approximately 65% of Cheshire East children travel by sustainable modes on the school journey, whilst 35% travelled by car, with sustainable modes used more for journeys to secondary schools. Car use has been steadily decreasing over the last few years. However, there are still too many children driven to school and many more could travel sustainably.
The use of school travel plans to address travel issues has not been as high as it should be. As part of the new SMOTS Strategy, the Council is encouraging schools to sign up to www.modeshiftstars.org, which will provide step by step support to developing a School Travel Plan.
A School Travel Plan is a document which sets out the measures and initiatives an individual school will use to reduce car journeys and promote other ways of getting to school safely. Successful school travel plans will be supported by the whole school community (pupils, teachers, parents, governors and support staff), the local community and the local authority.
Schools with an up to date School Travel Plan will be invited to provide evidence of specific issues that Cheshire East Highways can assess and implement.
This may be the improvements to walking and cycling routes such as
- footpath or cycleway improvements
- new access points to schools sites which give more convenient and safer access for pedestrian and cyclists;
- improved or new safe crossing points on routes to schools; small scale traffic management schemes e.g. lining, signing and traffic calming
- improvements to parking in the vicinity of schools to provide a safer highway environment
A walking bus is a group of children walking to school with at least two parent volunteers. Parents take it in turns, on a rota basis, to walk with the children. There is always a ‘driver’ who leads the bus, and a ‘conductor’ who walks at the back. The more children there are on the bus, the more adults walk with them.
Brake road safety charity
A reward scheme can be tailored to a school’s needs. Children are rewarded on a daily basis with stickers or house points, or weekly/monthly/termly basis with prizes, for walking or cycling to school. If you would like to run a scheme for your school, see our ideas for rewarding sustainable travel.
Park and stride schemes are aimed at children who live too far away from school to walk all the way. As part of the scheme, parents drop their children off at a distance away from school, rather than driving all the way to school.
Often, schools will ask for permission from a local pub or shop, to use their car park as a drop off point. Alternatively, schools can draw up a map, with a mile radius marked on it, and parents agree to park outside this radius and walk the rest of the way with their children.
If you would like a large (up to A1 size) map showing your school, contact the Policy and Accessibility Team.
Car sharing involves giving a lift to someone, usually who lives close by or on the way to or from school. Schemes can be formal, where the school holds a database of parents who are willing to car share, or informal arrangements between parents.
Walk once a week schemes involve children walking, either on a set day of the week, or at least one day a week. Some schools have created their own versions of this scheme, for example “Trek to School Tuesday” or “Foot Power Friday”.
The charity Living Streets runs a Walk on Wednesday/Walk Once a Week scheme called WOW, in which children can collect badges and certificates if they walk at least once a week.
Walk to School Week is a national event that takes place annually in May (usually the last week of the first half of the summer term). During this week, schools are encouraged to promote sustainable modes of travel, particularly walking all or part of the way to school.
Schools can order resources to help this promotion, including posters, stickers and activity diaries, from the Living Streets - Walk to School website
Similar to Walk to School Week, Walk to School Month is an international event which takes place annually in October. Resources to support the month can be ordered from Living Streets - Walk to School website
The cycle permit scheme encourages children to keep safe when they cycle to school, by getting children to sign a ‘contract’ indicating that they will follow certain rules when they cycle. Schools may print copies of the cycle permit and accompanying documents (teachers’ notes and letters to parents), or they can design their own.
DIPZY is an assembly for all children, which encourages them to think about places where parents often park when dropping their children off at school, but shouldn't. They look at five different places:
- Double yellow lines
- In front of entrances
- Zebra and other crossings
- Yellow zigzag lines
For each place, the children discuss why it is not a good idea to park there. The mnemonic DIPZY is explained to the children, and they are encouraged to take the message home to parents, telling them not to be DIPZY. At the end of the assembly, other modes of travel such as walking, cycling or car sharing are discussed.
Congestion demonstration assembly
This assembly is very practical, and requires room at the front of the hall. Two children play the part of pedestrians, and four children play the role of ‘cars’. As the assembly progresses, more and more children come up to be cars. At the end of the assembly, the children reflect on the fact that the more cars there are on the road, the more difficult it is to choose to walk to school.
In many schools, children design banners to be put on the school gates or railings, discouraging people from parking directly outside the school.