The Ranty Highwayman)
This week we ran the little pop-up event “Stories from the school run” (or #schoolrunstories on Twitter) and as with last year, it was about people just trying to get their kids to school actively, despite the conditions.
Experience does of course vary across the country, but most people will just be getting on with it and they don’t have the time to lobby for change (let’s face it, most people are just trying to get on with their lives generally). In the meantime, aside from relatively isolated pockets, people and their children struggle to walk along footways parked with cars, cross busy roads and let’s face it, cycling is often an unusual form of school transport.
How can we crack this? It’s an issue which has fluttered across my mind from time to time and this week it was back front and centre because I had a meeting with some local schools to talk about school travel. To set the scene, the meeting was with two primary schools which are very close to each other and share the same issues on the surrounding streets such as parking, speeding on the main road, lack of crossing opportunities and no protection for cycling at all. The meeting was small, just head teachers and a couple of governors, but they were eager to report back to their children who are very interested in their own travel options.
The location of the schools has a public transport accessibility level (PTAL) of 2 (poor). Most of the surrounding area has a PTAL of less than 2 (some with zero). We’re very lucky in London as Transport for London crunches lots of data and turns it into useful tools such as WebCAT. One of the schools is a gold accredited STARS school (again, London has a TfL-run system, although Modeshift runs one elsewhere) and the other is a bronze school.
In essence, gold STARS accreditation means that the school is doing loads of things to try and encourage and enable pupils and parents to ditch the car and indeed, gold schools are often trying to build links with the community to look at common issues (and helping other schools is one of them). This gets me to the point. The gold school is pretty much doing everything it can and impressively, only 9% of pupils are driven to school. The problem is that those 9% still generate plenty of vehicle movements and so they want to do more.