Cuiken Primary takes the Walking Bus to Safer Streets
Primary school children march for safer routes to school
Cuiken Primary School joined the Giant Walking Bus campaign, by the road safety charity Brakes, earlier in June in a bid to improve road safety across the UK.
Local school children joined over 100,000 children throughout the United Kingdom as they participated in the Giant Walking Bus campaign on Wednesday 11 June. The annual road safety awareness event is co-ordinated by Brakes, the road safety charity, and WeBuyAnyCar.com.
Cuiken Primary school pupils wanted to make their voices heard, calling on the government and local council to make their walking and cycling routes safer so that they can live healthy, active lifestyles. In a poll, commissioned by Brakes and Webuyanycar.com, of the school children participating throughout Scotland it was found that two thirds of pupils would like to walk and cycle more, to get to school or for general recreational activities. It was also discovered that just over half of the youngsters feared being run over by traffic when walking or cycling. Unsurprisingly, three quarters of children believed that drivers should go slower around their school.
As part of the Giant Walking Bus event at the school, pupils learned about road safety, traffic pollution and transport choices. Following this, pupils then marched following a safe route along pavements in the immediate vicinity. Children have the opportunity to be sponsored with any funds raised going to Brakes to help improve road safety and road safety awareness throughout the country. Pauline McKay, depute headteacher, Cuiken Primary School, said:
We’re delighted to be taking part in Brake’s Giant Walking Bus. It’s a fantastic opportunity for kids to make their voices heard and promote road safety to children, parents and local drivers. Our pupils will be marching and shouting out loud about the importance of drivers slowing down in our community, so they can enjoy a healthy, fun, active lifestyle without being endangered.
Brake’s want to make their message clear about providing safer routes for children to use as part of a healthy lifestyle. Thirty percent of children between the age of two and fifteen in Scotland are now at risk of being overweight or obese. It is a figure that is amongst the highest in the world. They believe that the easiest way to lower this percentage is to build active travel into their everyday routine, which can be achieved through safer roads. Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:
The kids marching for safer roads in Penicuik and across the UK today should send a clear message to everyone: kids want to be able to get out and walk and cycle, and by not making our streets safe, we are denying them the fun, active childhoods they deserve. This has serious implications for their long-term health and wellbeing, the burden on our NHS, the environment, and our society as a whole. If we are going to create an environment fit for our children we need to put them – not motor vehicles – first. We are appealing to drivers to slow down to 20mph or less around homes, schools and shops, to local authorities in Scotland to continue rolling out 20mph limits; and to national government to make 20mph the national urban default. We need to make sure our kids and people of all ages – not just the lucky few – can walk and cycle without being endangered.
The charity’s GO20 campaign aims to make 20mph the speed limit near areas where people live, work and play. It calls on the government to make 20mph the national urban default, instead of 30mph, as well as calling on drivers to make their own conscious decision to slow down to 20mph when possible. They say that a lower speed limit can lead to: fewer casualties, healthy active lifestyles, sociable communities, less pollution and lower costs.
The charity’s sponsor, Webuyanycar.com, feels that as the UK’s largest car buying service it is only right that they support making the country’s roads safer. In association with Webuyanycar.com, Brake’s have been able to create many successful initiatives such as the ‘See Me Stay Safe’ campaign which gave children between four and seven the ability to obtain a high visibility jacket for free. Richard Evans, Head of Technical Services at webuyanycar.com said:
Children want to be active and it’s our responsibility as road users to ensure they feel safe. Being able to cycle or walk to and from school should be a childhood right, not a luxury. We want today’s event to work as a wake up call to drivers – children want their roads to be safe and it’s our privilege, at webuyanycar,com, to help the voices of over 100,000 children be heard.
Parents are advised by the charity to carefully weigh up the risks of sending their children to school unsupervised. Whilst it can be beneficial to their health, in certain areas it can also be dangerous. For this reason 44% of children in the UK are now driven to school. However it does not need to be that way in Penicuik. The Giant Walking Bus is an example of how a walking bus can be used to transport children to school safely. It is social, active and fun, with many schools in the area now utilising this method of transportation.
Midlothian Council have lowered the speed limits around schools to at least 20mph whilst cars are also banned from dropping off/picking up youngsters in car parks in certain primary schools during peak times.
The Penicuik Cuckoo hopped on the Giant Walking Bus. You can view our gallery above. Larger images are available on request, © Caitlin Reid.