MOTORISTS blamed for clogging up roads around busy schools during peak times have been urged to take notice of growing calls for active travel to become part of children’s routines.
Pupils from Hoyland Springwood Primary School were joined by Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis - who is also Mayor of the Sheffield City Region - and ex-Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey in a bid to get more involved last Thursday.
Youngsters are taking part in WOW - the year-round walk-to-school challenge from charity Living Streets - which rewards children taking part with collectable monthly badges.
On average, WOW schools see a 23 per cent increase in pupils walking to school and a 30 per cent drop in cars driving all the way to the school gates, helping to reduce congestion, air pollution and increase physical activity among children.
Dan said: “I’m determined to support more children and families to walk or cycle to school.
“The school run provides a good opportunity to be active before the day begins and will help reduce the number of cars outside the school gates.
“I was pleased to join children from Hoyland Springwood Primary on their walk and to hear from them about how they benefit from walking and cycling to school.
“We are working to ensure children across Barnsley benefit from active travel and see a reduction in cars at the school gates.
“Building safe routes for walking and cycling, as well as creating active neighbourhoods, will create a greener Barnsley where people can travel across the region efficiently and sustainably.
“These schemes will help make our ambitious plans for active travel routes a reality.
“An additional £2.24m will be invested in routes across South Yorkshire, taking the total amount of money invested in active travel between 2020 and 2023 to more than £87m.”
Barnsley Council will recruit a new ‘school streets officer’ to manage a project encouraging youngsters to walk or cycle to school.
The role will be funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) with support from the Sheffield City Region.
The project aims to reduce transport emissions, and will see streets in front of schools closed to traffic in a bid to encourage parents to ditch cars in a bid to boost safety.
Dame Sarah, who is the active travel commissioner for the Sheffield City Region, added: “Children are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution on the school run, and by working in partnership with Living Streets we can promote the benefits of active travel to both children and parents and carers.
“I was delighted to join the children from Hoyland and to see the fun they had on their walk to school.
“Chatting to the children during the time we had with them in school demonstrated how engaged even our youngest are in wanting to find ways to be outside and moving, as often as possible.
“I hope this encourages other education settings, children and parents to start walking, cycling or scooting to school.”
The South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership (SYSRP) made a plea to parents and carers to choose a safe place to park away from school gates if they are unable to opt for active travel.
Joanne Wehrle, SYSRP manager, said: “We appreciate that people can be in a rush in a morning and that getting children to school on time can be hard work.
“If walking, cycling or catching the bus isn’t an option for you, please park in a legal and safe place and give yourself extra time in a morning.
“Because of their size, children can’t see if the road is clear from behind parked cars and drivers in turn are unable to see children as they are hidden from sight.
“Please make sure that your children know that roads are dangerous and don’t let very young children out on their own.”