Sustrans boss calls for safer streets as survey reveals "truly shocking" extent of short-hop school runs

One in ten children living within 500 yards of their school are driven there in car

by Simon_MacMichael   August 29, 2012  

School sign

The chief executive of sustainable transport charity Sustrans has described the findings of a survey that revealed that one in ten children living within 500 yards of their school are driven there each day by their parents as “truly shocking.”

The survey, carried out by AOL-owned website Parentdish.co.uk among 2,000 parents of school-age children, also found that fewer of half of pupils walk to school and that one in three who are taken there in a car live less than a mile away, and that time pressures caused two thirds of parents who would prefer that their children walk to school take them there in the car instead.

Sustrans chief executive Malcoolm Shepherd called for a 20mph speed limit to be put in place nationally to make streets safer for children and said: “The number of children travelling such short distances to school by car remains truly shocking.

“Just walking or cycling for brief periods each day can be massively beneficial to children’s health, particularly with the obesity crisis continuing to grow.

“Parents must feel that roads are safe enough for their children to walk or cycle along, and the introduction of a 20mph national default speed limit in built up areas would make our roads safer, increase physical activity and improve children’s health.”

Sustrans says that its Bike It programme has led to the number of children riding a bike to school each day trebling at those schools where it has been put in place.

Tamsin Kelly, editor of Parentdish.co.uk, said: “Jumping in the car for the school run may be the easy option, especially when we're all so time pressed, but leaving a little more time to walk to school really does reap rewards for everyone.

"It's a time to give your children some undivided attention without the demands of home and work, and a brisk walk really does set them up for the start of the day."

The Campaign for Better Trasport’s Car Depedency Scorecard 2012, which we reported on yesterday, showed big fluctuations in the level of cycling and walking to school in the 27 English towns and cities analysed.

The organisation’s research found that in Cambridge, three in four children walk or cycle to school, but only around half did so in Gateshead, the lowest-ranked location analysed.

The research also found that London had a low ranking when it came to children walking or cycling to school, but said that a possible explanation was that under-18s in the capital who are in full-time education are eligible for free bus travel.
 

20 user comments

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To be fair it is probably not a very accurate result: self-selected users of a single website !!

posted by zoxed [62 posts]
29th August 2012 - 13:49

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Not a self-selected survey as far as I can tell.

From the Parentdish website: "Our survey, conducted in association with OnePoll, surveyed 2,000 adults with school-aged children about their school-run plans for the term ahead."

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7490 posts]
29th August 2012 - 14:26

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Ive seen parents who can quite literally see the school from their houses drive their kids to school.
Unsurprisingly its usually the same parents who do this who park selfishly and sometimes dangerously when they get to school after this mammoth journey.
If i had my way i would ban all vehicle movements within 500m of schools for 15 minutes around the start and end of school. Totally unworkable i know but it would certainly get the some of the lazy feckers out of their cars once in a while.

posted by Some Fella [619 posts]
29th August 2012 - 14:42

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Might as well just say '10% of parents are twats' - they're not the ones that are likely to be suggestible to changing habits, or that have genuine concerns over safety or health, they just don't give a toss.

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posted by G-bitch [298 posts]
29th August 2012 - 15:02

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Some Fella wrote:
Ive seen parents who can quite literally see the school from their houses drive their kids to school.
Unsurprisingly its usually the same parents who do this who park selfishly and sometimes dangerously when they get to school after this mammoth journey.
If i had my way i would ban all vehicle movements within 500m of schools for 15 minutes around the start and end of school. Totally unworkable i know but it would certainly get the some of the lazy feckers out of their cars once in a while.

It's a good idea, and whether it would work just depends on where the school is located and the radius of the exclusion zone - I live on a road with a primary school, and there is a gate at the bottom of the road that gets closed between 8am and 930am and again between 3pm and 430pm. Unfortunately, people just park around the exclusion zone, but it would deter people like the ones in the survey who just travel 500 yards in the car.

Perhaps some kind of incentive scheme would be better though. I've known some schools and workplaces put on free breakfasts each week for those who cycled in. A similar thing for people who left the car at home and walked or cycled might persuade people to try a different method of travel...

posted by step-hent [638 posts]
29th August 2012 - 15:18

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I found this interesting fact today. A Professor Frank Booth has estimated that inactivity costs America one thousand million dollars a year...the entire annual budget deficit in the US. This story tends to underline the likleyhood that inactivity is a problem in this country as well. Inactivity is linked to obesity and type II diabetes and must cost the UK a huge sum; I think these people are storing up future health problems that could cost this country the NHS as we know it. Having said this would you want to walk or cycle near a school at opening or closing time? We really do need measures to combat this menace Angry

posted by SideBurn [731 posts]
29th August 2012 - 15:41

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Absolutely shocking. I see so many people using their cars to drive a few hundred metres. These short journeys actually take longer by car than walking or cycling, but they are totally addicted to their car habit.

We require highways engineering solutions (parking restrictions, 20 mph zones, no-entry restrictions to reduce permeability) so that driving is less convenient for shorter journeys and traffic speeds and flows are reduced making cycling to school more attractive.

I don't why people are so short of time anyway. More likely just disorganised or wasting time online or watching breakfast TV.

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
29th August 2012 - 16:15

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Campag_10 wrote:
These short journeys actually take longer by car than walking or cycling, but they are totally addicted to their car habit.

It doesnt take much to cause gridlock round my kids school and i actually enjoy it when it happens as it obviously slows the traffic to a standstill making walking a little safer and also i can smugly walk off and be half way home before the car drivers have found a parking space, collected the kids, strapped them in and negotiated the traffic getting away.
It seems to b e an obsession for some to park as close to the school as humanly possible. On the rare occasion i drive the kids to school i park 200 metres down the road - no jostling for places and never get stuck in the gridlock.
People are stupid.

posted by Some Fella [619 posts]
29th August 2012 - 17:02

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Statistics eh? So, taking the glass half-full view, 90% of kids living within 500m of their school walk or cycle. That's pretty good isn't it?

posted by dafyddp [87 posts]
29th August 2012 - 17:38

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More anti car anti driver ideology. When will people get it? 20 Limits are counter productive. Drivers who would normally select a lower speed around schools and BUA will focus on their needle instead of the road where we want them focussing. When they do that they are more likely to miss seeing the child or sudden movement and like all limits pinch a mile or two too. And low and behold all over the country accidents are up 24% in these areas but so are average speeds too.

But why assume parents are being idle? The roads are now much more dangerous as its not 1912 anymore added to which the car & the van has allowed paedophiles to travel far and wide too. That's why schools are all barred up and gated in where known parents have to meet the kids. What's the point of all that if the kids are just going to be loose there and back. Are any of you parents? Have any of you got large families to manage? Well you sure can't do all that on pushbikes.

Road safety 'experts' are often folk who's CV doesn't cut the mustard.

posted by Sedgepeat [56 posts]
29th August 2012 - 19:46

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This has bugged me for years. Give the kid a brolly and make them walk to school.

posted by jimmyd [91 posts]
29th August 2012 - 19:49

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I hear what you are saying; back in the good old days when people believe children were safe, the reality was is was paedophile heaven. People believed that children tended to tell tales about adults they did not like. These days we realise that no-one is above suspicion and that children are more likely than not to be telling the truth. But in order to protect children from the highly unlikely chance of abuse/abduction we are exposing them to the very real chance of health problems due to inactivity. I believe that better awareness of abusers means that children are safer than ever. I have 4 children and do my best to keep them safe, but driving them everywhere is not the solution.

posted by SideBurn [731 posts]
29th August 2012 - 20:01

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And by the way Sedgepeat the roads are safer now than they have ever been! 4886 fatalities in 1926 to 1901 fatalities in 2011!

posted by SideBurn [731 posts]
29th August 2012 - 20:13

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I think people are missing the message. The article I think is talking actually walking WITH your kids to the school gate. So all those people worried about peadophiles etc, shoving your kids out the front door and expecting them to navigate the perils to the school is almost is bad as driving them when you could walk.

It's pretty simple really, walk with them, supervise and teach them as you walk, and low and behold you keep your kids safe, teach them skills and spend more quality time with them.

posted by Nzlucas [78 posts]
30th August 2012 - 1:26

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The behaviour described in this survey, along with the amount of speeding, mad overtaking etc, proves my point that petrol is still not too expensive for most people. The cost is not modifying behaviour.

We live close to our kids' primary school. A significant number of parents drive from other streets nearby to drop their children off. A good proportion of them ignore the school's request made at the start of every term to use the large car parks by the nearby shops or the back of the local pub and to not to block driveways or park their 4x4s where people cross the road, making it quite dangerous on both main approaches to the school. Utterly selfish and unnecessary.

I suspect most are on their way to work and can't bring themselves to walk the short distance back to their house or the parking area to then get in the car. As there is plenty of parking nearby I would be happy to see a 'no fly zone' on the narrow roads near the school.

I have also seen people I know drive the short distance to the local Co-Op/chippy/ATM. I can walk there in roughly the same time using the footpath that cuts through while drivers have to go to the end of the road and turn right out of a T-junctions crossing 40mph traffic on a busy arterial road and similarly on the way back.

Sorry Sedgepeat, I don't agree. However, my CV as an experienced driving, cycling and walking participant and observer of behaviour of many years probably means nothing so I'm sure you are right and I am wrong.

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posted by Simon E [1779 posts]
30th August 2012 - 10:49

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I knew things would go tits-up when the working classes were allowed cars.

Mike

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posted by mike the bike [98 posts]
30th August 2012 - 19:00

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Sedgepeat wrote:
More anti car anti driver ideology. When will people get it? 20 Limits are counter productive. Drivers who would normally select a lower speed around schools and BUA will focus on their needle instead of the road where we want them focussing. When they do that they are more likely to miss seeing the child or sudden movement and like all limits pinch a mile or two too. And low and behold all over the country accidents are up 24% in these areas but so are average speeds too.

What a bunch of toss. Why do you think drivers will spend more time looking at their speedometer at 20 rather than 30?? I've heard the same lame excuse used against reducing ANY speed limit for donkeys years.

And if you've listened to any of the news about 20 limits recently, you would know that the 24% figure you quote is meaningless. The number of 20 limit areas has quadrupled across the country, so of course more accidents are being recorded in these areas! What's important is the rate and seriousness of injuries happening in 20 limits, which has been proven to be reduced.

And I'm not even going to bother commenting on the 'paedophile' nonsense.

Please do some research before posting any more of this drivel on a cycling website.

posted by don_don [149 posts]
3rd September 2012 - 8:36

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SideBurn wrote:
And by the way Sedgepeat the roads are safer now than they have ever been! 4886 fatalities in 1926 to 1901 fatalities in 2011!

How many of those reduced fatalities are amongst car occupants, who are better protected than ever by new technology - air bags, ABS, crumple zones etc etc?

How does the rate of fatalities amongst pedestrians and cyclists compare?

posted by don_don [149 posts]
3rd September 2012 - 8:41

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don_don; Now you are asking! I think that a huge number of factors are significant. Like a change in attitude to drinking and driving; years ago people would have a few an take it easy on the way home. Getting done (fined) for drinking and driving had little stigma then. Today, try and get some sympathy! A similar pr campaign is going on against speeding. Improvements in medical science; more and better ambulance staff are all significant. It is also possible that motorways allow huge mileage to be racked up without worrying about pedestrians, cyclists, horses etc.
I think that if I could find the statistics for non-motorised casualties they would have reduced. But; why? Because the roads are safer or because less people chose to walk/ride? (because the roads are too dangerous?) As well as improvements in medical support. But I think that when the peak of fatalities is 7,985 (1966) a reduction of 76% is significant and suggests the roads are safer!
My original arguement was where people are protecting themselves from the dangers on the road by driving, when they could ride or walk, they are exposing themselves to the very real, and more likely, health related dangers of inactivity!

posted by SideBurn [731 posts]
3rd September 2012 - 11:01

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SideBurn wrote:
don_don; Now you are asking! I think that a huge number of factors are significant. Like a change in attitude to drinking and driving; years ago people would have a few an take it easy on the way home. Getting done (fined) for drinking and driving had little stigma then. Today, try and get some sympathy! A similar pr campaign is going on against speeding. Improvements in medical science; more and better ambulance staff are all significant. It is also possible that motorways allow huge mileage to be racked up without worrying about pedestrians, cyclists, horses etc.
I think that if I could find the statistics for non-motorised casualties they would have reduced. But; why? Because the roads are safer or because less people chose to walk/ride? (because the roads are too dangerous?) As well as improvements in medical support. But I think that when the peak of fatalities is 7,985 (1966) a reduction of 76% is significant and suggests the roads are safer!
My original arguement was where people are protecting themselves from the dangers on the road by driving, when they could ride or walk, they are exposing themselves to the very real, and more likely, health related dangers of inactivity!

Point taken. The Road Danger Reduction Forum (rdrf.org.uk) often make the point that raw pedestrian and cyclist KSI numbers have reduced on the most dangerous roads/junctions, precisely because those users are avoiding them. Perversely, traditional road safety thinking would see this as a positive.

Incidentally, for more info on the benefits of 20 speed limits, this is worth reading: http://www.copenhagenize.com/2010/01/30-kmh-zones-work.html

posted by don_don [149 posts]
3rd September 2012 - 11:56

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