GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY WEEK SPECIAL FEATURE: WALKING BUS
UN Global Road Safety Week
Case study: Walking Bus
To celebrate the Second UN Global Road Safety Week (6-12 May), which is focusing on pedestrian safety, Road Safety GB will be showcasing some of the UK's established pedestrian safety schemes.
The Walking Bus is an excellent example of a pedestrian safety scheme that has been around in the UK for some while, and in many areas of the country continues to go from strength to strength.
Put simply, a Walking Bus is a group of children walking to school with at least two adults. A Walking Bus provides a safe way for children to walk to school while at the same time helping to improve their fitness and road safety awareness, as well as reducing traffic congestion and pollution around schools.
Powered by old-fashioned legwork, a Walking Bus can be a fun, healthy, safe and sustainable way of travelling to school. Children and volunteers walk in a group along a set route, picking up or dropping off ‘passengers’ at specific ‘bus stops’ on their journey.
A Walking Bus can be easy to set up and must have a minimum of two adults per route (often staff or parents) - an adult ‘driver’ at the front of the bus, and a ‘conductor’ at the back.
Everyone on the Walking Bus is expected to wear a high-visibility tabard, routes should be approved by the council following a risk assessment, and adults should be police-checked.
The scheme can even be inclusive for children that live too far away to walk all the way to school: ‘Park and Stride’ encourages parents to drop off their children at a stop for them walk the rest of the way.
Medway’s Walking Bus
One of the UK’s most enduring and successful Walking Bus schemes was initiated about 10 years ago by Medway Council and the KM Charity (Kent and Medway Charity). The partnership launched the scheme in response to concerns about obesity levels in children, and their lack of road safety skills, and increasing levels of traffic congestion.
In Medway, more than 700 children currently participate in the scheme and the number of Walking Bus stops across various routes increased to 36 when an additional 14 were installed in April 2013.
A risk assessment is carried out to determine the suitability of a Walking Bus route. Training is arranged for every walking bus volunteer and everyone who walks on one of the buses is required to wear a high-visibility tabard.
Data provided by the DfT indicates that 47% of primary school children in Great Britain walked to school in 2010. However, in Medway in the period 2010/11, 60.7% of children aged 5-10 walked to school - an indication that the Walking Bus scheme may be having a positive effect in terms of encouraging a higher proportion of pupils to walk to school.
For more information about Medway’s Walking Bus contact Su Ormes, Medway Council principal road safety officer, on 01634 331710.
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