Top tips for walking to school from Green Schools Travel
The National Transport Authority fund the Green-Schools Travel Module of the national Green-Schools Flag programme.
As of September 2011, over 844 schools and 170,000 pupils have been through the Green-Schools travel programme implementing initiatives to promote walking and cycling. Results from schools that undertook the programme between 2009 and 2011 indicate an 18% reduction in private car use to more sustainable modes of travel to school. This represents over 9,000 people per day making the switch from the car to walking and cycling.
This toolkit was developed by the National Transport Authority and Green Schools Travel to help your school promote walking, cycling and other forms of sustainable travel.
Walk on Wednesdays (WoW days)
St Conleths National School Kildare launch their Walk on Wednesday WOW day
Create an Incentive
Some people may need a little encouragement to start walking. This could be a simple prize for the top walker of the month or you could have a healthy breakfast morning for all those who choose walking as their mode of choice on a certain day.
Golden Boot Awards!
The Golden Boot is a great way to encourage classes to compete against each other to be the ‘Greenest’ travellers! Classes count how many people walked, cycled, took public transport, car-shared or Park ‘n’ Stride to school on a weekly basis. At the end of every week (or term) the class with the most ‘Green Travellers’ wins the Golden Boot.
Develop an Initiative
You could start a walking initiative such as Walk on Wednesday (WOW). Simply pick a day you would like people to walk and then promote it. This could be linked to raising awareness and creating an incentive e.g. a poster competition to promote WOW and then provide a healthy breakfast the last Wednesday of every month.
Over 32,850 pupils in 250 schools took part in Green-Schools National WOW Day in 2011.
Where children are deemed too young to walk independently consider setting up a ’Walking Bus’. A walking bus is run by a group of adult volunteers who walk a route to a school, stopping off at certain points to collect and drop off children. Walking buses can be time-consuming to set up as they require buy in from a lot of people. But once up and running, they can work brilliantly and really set children up for independent walking.
Consider running a themed walk, such as a ghost tour, sports tour, local history tour around your local area or go for a nature walk and learn about the local biodiversity. This could be tied into Geography, Science or History classes. Or have a Fancy Dress Walk – around certain times of the year organise fancy dress walks to school, for example at Halloween, Christmas or St. Patricks Day. You could also have a ‘no uniform walking day’ to raise money for your school or a local charity.
International Walking Events
Did you know that Green-Schools National Walk to School Week takes place in May and International Walk to School month occurs in October?
Speak to your Local Authority and Community Guard about managing parking and traffic outside your school or to improve pedestrian infrastructure in your area.
Carry out a ‘Walkability Audit’ of your school
This involves students and teachers walking around their school or local area with clipboards, paper and a camera to ‘log’ areas for improvement. The results of your Walkability Audit can be sent to your Local Authority with a request to undertake some of the improvements marked. For example – repainting double yellow lines outside the school, putting up signs at school gates asking parents to park away from the gates, cutting back bushes on the way into the school, moving bins blocking paths etc.
Children now walk up roads where once they were driven up them. Children have become aware of the healthy aspects of walking and cycling” – Principal, Divine Word National School, Rathfarnham, Dublin
Safety tips from Green Schools Travel
– Always be bright and be seen
– Always stay on pavements or footpaths
– Always use pedestrian crossings or lollipop wardens
– Always be responsible near roads
– Always remember the Safe Cross Code
– Always take care when crossing cycle lanes