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Groundbreaking and highly successful Rural Safe Routes to School programme.

© Deutscher Verkehrssicherheitsrat e. V., Bonn

Ministers' praise for successful Safe Routes to School project

Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity is proud to announce the results of the groundbreaking and highly successful Rural Safe Routes to School programme.

Over the past 12 months, Sustrans, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Department of Regional Development (DRD) have reduced car journeys to school by 27 per cent and increased cycling and walking by a staggering 58 per cent.

The 1.3 million pound programme has worked with 18 rural schools to introduce practical solutions to the barriers preventing nearly 4,000 children and young people from cycling or walking to school. These have included a raft of measures: new cycling and walking paths, new bike storage, pedestrian crossings, safety lights, new on road signage, and improved school access. The overarching aim has been to support and encourage children and young people to choose cycling and walking as a way of getting to and from school.

Ministers and Sustrans visited St Jarlath's Primary School in County Armagh today to see for themselves how effective the programme has been.

William Methven, Rural Safe Routes to Schools Manager for Sustrans congratulated St Jarlath's PS: "It is fantastic to see that the number of young people walking or cycling has increased by over 50 per cent in the last 12 months. This is children showing adults very clearly the way forward in modern sustainable travel. This is just one example of many great successes across the 18 schools we have been working with."

"This programme has once again demonstrated that cycling and walking is a viable alternative to the car. If we rolled the programme out across all schools with the same level of success we would see 26 million fewer car journeys to and from school. This will not only reduce congestion and improve our local environment, it will also mean 52,000 young people would be taking regular exercise."

"This dramatic change in behaviour occurred in just 12 months, it is vital that work such as this carries on for many years to come. It shows how partnership working between our young people, civil society and Government can achieve great results in a short period of time. I hope the Rural Safe Routes to School programme will act as a model for future work in every part of Northern Ireland."

Minister for the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew said: "The Rural Safe Routes to School initiative is an innovative project that integrates health, fitness, environmental and safety concerns. It is important to encourage young children and their parents to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and children who stay fit now by walking or cycling to school are more likely to stay active when they are older. This is an excellent example of working in partnership, the involvement of the local school, Sustrans, Road Service, the Department of Education and DARD, all pursuing common goals for the good of local people and the development of the local community."

The measures at St Jarlath's Primary School have included a new bike shed, a new cycling and walking path from the village of Blackwatertown, new safety lights and improved road markings. These simple solutions have seen walking and cycling increase by over 50 per cent. In addition to the new facilities and route, Sustrans has been working with the school to help them develop their school travel plan to further increase the levels of cycling and walking over the coming years. Throughout the year the school has been proactive in putting on mass bike rides and walk to school days.

Minister for Transport, Conor Murphy said: "This is an excellent partnership project that also highlights the benefits of considering alternatives to the 'school run' which accounts for 20 per cent of the traffic each morning and adds to congestion outside schools. I commend the work of all the partners but especially the work of my own Department's Roads Service who were responsible for organising the installation of the school safety zone measures."

Sustrans' Rural Safe Routes to Schools project is funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) through the EU Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity, Department for Regional Development (DRD) Roads Service, the Department of Education and the DOE Road Safety Education Branch.

NOTES

  • Schools involved in the Rural Safe Routes to School Programme were: Ballinamallard, Broadbridge, Cloughmills, Gracehill, Hezlett, Kilbride, Killylea, Killyleagh, Moneymore, St Colmcille's, St Jarlath's, St John's, St Joseph's, St Mary's (Antrim), St Mary's (Armagh) St Patrick's (Tyrone), St Patrick's (Fermanagh), and Templepatrick
  • Safe Routes to Schools was developed by Sustrans to encourage more people to walk and cycle to school in safety; to improve road safety and reduce child casualties; to improve children's health and development; and to reduce traffic congestion and pollution
  • Sustrans' Rural Safe Routes to Schools project in Northern Ireland aims to achieve a 10 per cent reduction in car journeys in 18 schools and also to increase levels of walking and cycling
  • Rural Safe Routes to Schools is funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) through the EU Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity, Department for Regional Development (DRD) Roads Service, the Department of Education and the DOE Road Safety Education Branch
  • Sustrans is the UK's leading sustainable transport charity. Its vision is a world in which people choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment. It is achieving this through innovative but practical solutions to the UK's transport challenges. It was founded in Bristol on 7 July 1977
  • Sustrans' flagship project, the National Cycle Network, is now around 12,000 miles and runs within one mile of over half the UK population. During 2007 over 354 million trips were made on the Network. It is maintained by a team of 2,400 Volunteer Rangers

SUSTRANS-press release

SUSTRANS-Homepage: www.sustrans.org

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Date
22. December 2008
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SUSTRANS Press Release Dec 05, 2008 / Difu

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UK
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