Pupils set to benefit from safer school travel

Cllr Chris Goodwin, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods; Headteacher, Mrs Amy Wainwright; Greater Manchester Active Travel Commissioner Dame Sarah Storey and Leader of the Council Councillor Arooj Shah at St. Anne’s C.E. Primary School in Royton.

• More than 250 residents participated in our Safe and Active Travel to School Audit, providing valuable input.
• Oldham Council will now act on these findings by implementing various measures.

New plans are being put in place to help children to walk or cycle to school in Oldham more safely.

This comes after more than 250 residents took part in the Council’s Safe and Active Travel to School Audit, which aimed to gather insights on how to make children’s travel to school more safe, healthy and environmentally friendly.

Through a combination of assessments, surveys from parents and residents, and workshops with schools; ideas and recommendations have now been put forward which will now be put into practice by Oldham Council.

Cllr Chris Goodwin, the cabinet member for Neighbourhoods said: “We know many children and their parents want to walk or cycle to school, but they find it difficult for a whole range of reasons, such as a lack of safe routes or available cycle parking. 

“I’m therefore really pleased that children, families and school staff have had their say in this important piece of work. We’ve listened to their feedback and I’m proud that new plans will now be put into action.

“This will make a real difference towards making our streets safer for young people in Oldham, while reducing our carbon footprint at the same time.”

Several concerning trends prompted the need for the audit, including a significant decline in the number of primary school children walking to school.

Currently, only half of primary school children in the UK walk to school, compared to 70% in the 1970s (Source – Department for Transport). The majority of pupils now rely on cars for commuting, contributing to congestion during peak hours. Additionally, there has been a decline in walking levels, increased collision rates during school commute times, deteriorating health outcomes among pupils, and the pressing need to address climate change.

The findings highlight the urgent need for action. Data collected from ‘hands up’ surveys of pupils in Oldham along with postcode data collected from schools reveal that despite living within a 1 to 2 mile catchment area, on average only half of primary school children across Oldham walk to school.

The audit has identified three primary priorities: Safety, Access, and Amenity. Recommendations include expanding School Streets, implementing 20 mph zones around schools, ensuring inclusive design for accessibility, enhancing cycle parking facilities, and introducing green infrastructure and pocket parks to enrich the school travel experience.

Our School Streets programme is already active, with trials underway at St Anne’s Primary School, Royton and Buckstones Primary School, Shaw and more being planned in the near future but the audit suggests more should be introduced in the future.

Oldham Council is committed to implementing the audit’s recommendations to create a safer, more accessible, and enjoyable environment for school travel. Through these changes, we aim to enhance health outcomes for children, alleviate traffic congestion and pollution, and contribute to the borough’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.

  • Download our Safe and Active Travel to School Audit

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