Cheshire East Council is introducing a campaign to promote healthier ways of travelling to school.
The council wants to encourage more children to walk or cycle to school rather than travel by car.
Known as Smots (sustainable modes of transport to school), the strategy also considers safer parking for communities around schools, other modes of transport – such as buses and trains – and a policy to encourage schools to have their own travel plans.
The strategy seeks to make other forms of travel more appealing and reduce the automatic choice of family car to drive children to school.
The council acknowledges that where families live in remote rural areas, or where special circumstances apply, car travel may be the only option but it does want to encourage parents to think more carefully about choosing healthier, active forms of travel for their children.
Walking routes and cycle ways could be improved and increased in number and schools will be encouraged to continue road safety training and ‘Bikeability’ schemes to teach young people safe riding.
The travel plans will help schools to identify and flag up the issues and obstacles that deter or prevent pupils using more sustainable forms of travel. The council can look at ways to address the problems.
Solutions could take a number of forms:
· Improvements to walking and cycling routes
· New access points to school sites giving more convenient and safer access for pedestrians and cyclists
· Improved or new safe crossing points on routes to schools
· Small-scale traffic management schemes such as lining, signing and traffic calming
· Improvements to parking
The council has set aside £150,000 to fund schemes that would help to deliver solutions.
The Smots strategy sets out the framework for how the council, in collaboration with key delivery partners, will support schools to enable and encourage sustainable travel to and from schools.
By achieving greater use of sustainable modes of transport, coupled with physical activity, the council wants to create safer and more vibrant communities leading to quality of place and improved educational outcomes.
Councillor Jos Saunders, cabinet member for children and families, said: “Recent Public Health England figures showed that in Cheshire East we have one of the lowest rates of childhood obesity and we want to maintain that and continue to improve upon it.
“But this is not just about obesity in the young. It is about improving quality of life for everyone, by reducing car dependency and promoting healthy lifestyles.”
Councillor Don Stockton, cabinet member for environment, said: “From a highways perspective, it is about improving road safety around schools, relieving congestion and reducing the number of parked cars outside or near schools.
“We are working with schools and other delivery partners to introduce measures that can provide opportunities for sustainable and community-friendly travel to our schools.”