Already three schools in the Lurgan area have signed up to the proposals with 12 in total from the new Armagh Banbridge Craigavon area taking part.
And so the school run is set to be transformed for pupils with those who are able encouraged to get on their bicycles, walk or use their scooters to get to school as part of the new ‘Active Travel’ programme delivered by walking and cycling (sustainable travel) charity, Sustrans.
Active Travel Officer, Dave Wiggins, explained: “We will be working in these schools over the next three years, supporting the principals and ‘School Champions’ (teachers) to increase the number of pupils walking, cycling and scooting to and from school.
“There are countless benefits to pupils travelling more actively.
“Reducing the volume of traffic at the school gates makes the local area safer and less congested, pupils arrive at school more alert and ready to engage. The health benefits are obvious and above all it’s more fun than sitting in the back of a car!”
Since September, Dave has been working in local schools, Tullygally, St Mary’s Primary School, Derrytrasna and St Mary’s Primary School in Derrymore.
“The schools that we support in the Lurgan area have really embraced the programme and have already taken great steps to giving their pupils as much opportunity as possible to get to school on two wheels or two feet.
“Some of the activities we deliver include assemblies, class based workshops, whole school travel days such as ‘Ditch The Dark’ & ‘Bling Your Bike’, bike maintenance sessions, on-road cycle training and inter-school active travel competitions.”
Sustrans’ vision is to see four out of five local journeys made by foot, bicycle or public transport by the year 2020.
Nearly half of children surveyed by Sustrans in 2010 wanted to cycle to school but only four percent were allowed to. The biggest concern of adults when it comes to children walking and cycling to school is traffic danger.
Cycling to school helps young people develop road safety skills and learn how to manage risk gradually. As children gain the skills they need to stay safe, they can develop independence and solutions for getting about themselves.
If you would like to find out more information about Sustrans or would like your school to be considered for the Active Travel Programme in September please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 028 9043 4569.