Parents fear for kids’ safety in travelling to school

Mum Karen Van Zon tries to walk or cycle with her children to school each day.
Mum Karen Van Zon tries to walk or cycle with her children to school each day.

A Glenrothes mum is supporting new research which revealed that fears over physical safety is preventing parents from allowing their children to travel actively to school.

The School Travel Survey for Parents, released by Sustrans Scotland and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, found that 42.4 per cent of parents felt that unsafe walking and cycling routes, a lack of or inadequate pavements, ineffective or lack of crossings, unsafe school entrances and dangerous driving were major factors which prevented their children from walking, cycling or scootering to school.

Karen Van Zon, (42), tries to walk or cycle with her three children to and from primary school every day.

The stay at home mum lives just under a mile from their school and believes it is important to encourage her children to travel actively with her family.

Their journey to school takes the family along a busy trunk road and across a number of junctions and crossings.

However, despite there being a shared use cycling and walking path running alongside the trunk road, Karen is reluctant to let her children make the trip to school on their own, due to the lack of safe infrastructure in the final few streets before the school.

She said: “The last section before the school is really quite dangerous. There are a lot of junctions and crossings and is exceptionally busy at school drop off and pick up times with parents driving their children to and from school.

“We have had a couple of near misses from drivers not paying attention when parking and reversing around the school entrance. And whilst children can be taught to handle busy traffic, they can’t anticipate reversing cars, cars blocking pavements or cars blocking visual splays and sight lines.”

Karen is keen for her older children in P6 and 7 to be able to travel to school unaccompanied, however she says that until the streets around the school are safer, she has no choice but to travel with them.

She continued: “When we launched the school travel plan earlier this year the council came to look at the infrastructure around the school and they agreed that currently, it isn’t very safe.

“Because of where the school is situated there isn’t the option of closing roads near the entrance and addressing the issues with the infrastructure will take a long time.

“In the meantime it’s very frustrating and dangerous for parents and children who have to negotiate the route on foot or bike every day.”

Lynn Stocks, Sustrans Scotland acting head of behaviour, said: Whilst funds such as Sustrans Scotland’s Safer Routes to School, which can be used to make routes to school and school entrances and pavements safer, help to make active journeys safer and easier for parents and children, it is clear that there is still more which needs to be done to improve safety around schools if we are to encourage healthy travel habits in children which can last a lifetime.”