Here at Streetspace we are long-term supporters of greater levels of activity for everyone. For example, previous blogs include Campaigning to close the gender sports gap in schools and keep girls active, Government develops plans to help children play more sport and Sport for All of Us. So, it is welcome news to us that a primary school in Wales is tackling the issue of sustainable transport, incorporating exercise, and is proving that alternative solutions can work.
The Ysgol Hamadryad school in Cardiff opened in January 2019 and from the outset it put measures in place to ensure that pupils would walk further than from a car outside the front gate. These measures include cycling and scooter lessons, making local roads unsuitable for parking and providing a “walking bus” for pupils to get to school.
Aside from the benefits of increased levels of exercise and social interaction for the children, the push towards sustainable transport also means the air around the school has less traffic fumes. As well as this environmental impact of transport, the children are also now learning about road safety.
Sustrans Cymru said the school was a “fantastic example” of how to make it easier for children to walk and cycle to school. Director Steve Brooks said: “Barriers to active travel are sometimes over exaggerated. Ysgol Hamadryad’s proactive approach to dealing with the barriers they faced is really inspiring and a great example for other schools to follow.”
This sort of action appears to be growing in popularity both in the UK (supported by advice from Sustrans) and further afield. Alongside this, the School Streets Initiative provides accessible information and guidance to empower local communities who want to see temporary restrictions implemented on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times.
All of this goes to show that – with appropriate planning and by working with parents and children – it is possible to change common behaviours to the benefit of all. At Streetspace we are proud to continue to support this change.