Why it's worth doing
Children’s safety is absolutely paramount and the long-term benefits of establishing healthy habits are great not just for our kids, but also the nation’s health. Kids learn to enjoy more independence and parents gain valuable time back in their day, without the grind of school drop-offs and pickups.
What's getting in the way?
Kids tell us they really want to walk, scoot or bike to school, especially with their friends. Our streets are public places where kids should be free to travel, play and explore their neighbourhood. The issue is our government stopped designing our streets for people, and prioritised travel for large, fast cars instead. Over time, we’ve just come to accept that our streets have to be noisy, traffic-filled and dangerous for non-motorists to use. This approach is keeping us from having the confidence to allow our kids to become independent and walk or ride a bike or scooter on their own.
How we can make positive change
Luckily in Australia the school catchment system ensures kids generally live close to their school, so we don’t need to change many of our streets in order to make active school travel a safe choice for kids. State and local governments can prioritise healthy, safe streets around schools by providing cycle and pedestrian infrastructure, (think bike paths, walking tracks and pedestrian crossings), lowering speed limits and calming traffic to reduce risk and improve access. Many schools are also trialling specific periods to open nearby streets to people who walk, ride, scoot - without traffic. The start and end of each school day are ideal windows to introduce the concept.
The most effective groups to lead this change
P&C associations, school leaders and local business groups are ideal organisations to create change around specific schools as they know the area, have a collaborative relationship with school leadership and are part of the local community. They also have the most to benefit from delivering better streets to schools.
How you can get started
If you’d like to bring your P&C, school, community group or other organisation into the BetterStreets coalition, and create safe, enjoyable active transport choices for school kids in your area, email@example.com