The vast majority of parents walk or cycle with their kids to school, but a substantial minority drive them by car. In doing so they are responsible for adding to congestion, pollution and a substantial increase in road danger. And what many don’t seem to realise, they are badly harming their own child’s health as well, as pollution inside your car can be much worse than pollution outside. See George Monbiot’s devastating fact sheet What traffic fumes do to our children. And check out why we think more active travel is good for young people and schools.
Driving children to school also robs them of the chance of exercise, as few achieve the recommended hour of exercise each day (and few adults have the recommended half hour). Studies have also shown that active travel helps kids perform better at school, and makes it easier for them develop social networks, and enhances their development. See “Children’s travel behaviour and its health implications”.
Compare these photos taken over a 20 minute period at the same time in the same locations in Walthamstow London E17 on the last day of the spring half term Friday 17th February 2017, and the first day back at school on Monday 20th February 2017.
What you can do?
Ask your local school if it has a Travel Plan in place. If not, and it introduced one, the school would be eligible for a Government ‘Traveling to School Initiative’ grant (up to £5,000 for a primary, £10,000 for a secondary).
Help other parents understand the benefits to themselves and their children of incorporating more active travel (walking & cycling) into their lives. Waltham Forest Council is investing heavily in making our streets more attractive for walking and cycling, and lists many compelling reasons to ditch the car for short journeys. Also, click here for a summary from ‘Brake’.
If its a bit too far to walk, why not borrow one of the council’s cargo bikes for free for a few days to ferry your kids to primary school.
Join a Council anti-idling workshop and action day, where you can work with a team of volunteers to encourage motorists to switch off their engines when stationary.