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TAKE ACTION

Reducing school run traffic is a complex problem, but there are solutions! Scroll down for our inspirational toolkit that will help enable a more flexible, sustainable school run. And let us know what you're doing at your school!

hello@solvetheschoolrun.org

School Journeys Data

This is information to help communities understand how families are travelling to school and where they are coming from, which helps plan solutions.

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How does it work?

Initiatives, such as a school organised survey; the Transport for London hands up survey or tech applications, give useful info to schools and councils, so transport solutions can be based on real-life data. They can quantify how many cars are doing the school run, alongside how many families cycle or walk. Some initiatives are more sophisticated than others. Technology enabled applications can measure distances, and map (anonymously) where journeys start from,  to inform the best solutions. 

Good for > All schools benefit from knowing their driving rates. However, primary schools (where driving is typically higher) with a high proportion of pupils travelling over one mile will benefit from more sophisticated journey data, as they need a wider range of sustainable travel solutions. 

How to get started?

Family Cargo & E-bikes

Cycling is changing. It’s no longer you with your child on stabilisers, riding alongside. There’s a whole new range of bicycling options that make it easy to carry children.

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How does it work?

This new breed comes in a range of styles - the more recognisable cargos have a bucket at the front or back, with either two or three wheels. Then there are the longtails - these are traditional looking bikes that are a little longer than normal, and can carry one, sometimes two children. They are e-assist, so extra weight or hills won’t phase them.

Good for >  All distances but most helpful for school run trips of over 1 mile that young primary pupils struggle to make themselves. 

How to get started?

Transport for London Travel for Life program

behaviour change scheme that encourages pupils to walk, cycle or ride the average school run (0.6 miles).

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How does it work?

Schools sign up to become bronze, silver or gold accredited schools, by taking part in different activities that promote  pupil active travel, helping schools create a culture that celebrates an active journey to school. Some councils use the accreditation as a marker, to see how engaged a school is, when deciding whether to implement a school street or other traffic reduction method.

Good for > Absolutely all schools. However, primary schools with a high proportion of children living over one mile away, (eg. independent schools) will also need more solutions like chaperoned school buses & journey sharing, to cater for those living beyond a distance where pupil active travel is easily possible.

How to get started?

School Buses

All primary school age kids can ride the school bus in America, why can’t they here? They can! Lots of new style services are suitable for kids from reception age.

School Bus & Children

How does it work?

Chaperoned bus services that
allow children to use them flexibly, booking them day-to-day, enabling them to bring home playdates, or
go
 to after-school clubs, can all be booked via an app. Parents can also
see when children arrive safely at their destination. 
 

Good for > all schools where the average school run is more than
1-1.5 miles - where there is enough demand for a school bus.

How to get started?

Bike & Walking Buses

A journey-sharing scheme where parents or paid-for school travel stewards collect children on their route, and walk them to school.

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How does it work?

Typically, walking or bike buses involve parents taking their own children to school, in a group, with other children and their parents. This can be helpful in providing a safe and supported environment for other families to try cycling. Sustrans have a helpful guide on how to set one up.  However, we believe that ultimately this doesn’t relieve the pressure of the school run, as parents still have to do the journey.

We think bike or walking buses should be run by paid school travel stewards, on prescribed routes which parents can book flexibly, even the day before. With so many households having both parents work full time, the school run is often a very pressurised part of the day, with little infrastructure to help. We think a formalised walking/bike bus could form a valuable resource - helping children have more exercise, reducing congestion, and helping parents. At the moment, we don’t know of anyone doing this, but we are actively researching ideas to make this possible - if you want to help or have information please contact hello@solvetheschoolrun.org.

Good for >  All schools, but in different ways. Walking and bike buses would work well for primary schools with a catchment of less than a mile - a 20+ minute walk. Schools with larger catchments, near good public transport and with safe pavements could run something similar from train/bus stations, allowing parents to drop their children off, on the way to work.

How to get started?

New tech like smart route planning and tracker apps means solutions are constantly evolving.

Journey Sharing

Connecting families to share the school run - from bike buses to car-pooling. 

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How does it work?

There are several services that can enable journey sharing in schools. They put families local to each other in touch so they work together to get their kids to school. Alternatively use your own school contracts to see if anyone local wants to share. It doesn't have to be everyday, but a few journeys shared each week means a few less cars on the road whilst giving parents back time in their day. 

Good for > Everyone can do it! But the time-savings are probably most helpful for families with longer school runs - so journeys to primary school of over one mile. 

How to get started?

School Streets & Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs)

Closing a school’s road at drop off and pick up times, or reducing parking on it, can make the area around the school safer, encouraging active travel journeys.

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How does it work?

London has over 600 school streets, since the first one was introduced in Camden in 2017. They have been proven to reduce air pollution around schools, and not to problematically displace the issue elsewhere. CPZs can have a similar effect, if they have the right road markings and are enforced correctly.

Good for >  Every school - school streets are great for schools with small catchments as they don’t allow a door to door drop off, the inconvenience of which can act as a deterrent to parents driving short distances. They are great for schools with larger catchments, where driving is a bigger problem, as they keep high levels of pollution and road danger away from the school.  If a school street isn’t possible, we recommend asking for a strong CPZ that is strictly enforced. 

How to get started?

Safe Routes for Active Travel

Obvious but essential. Roads with low traffic flow, wide pavements and effective crossings are essential for safe active travel.

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How does it work?

Pavements need to be wide enough for families and buggies to pass each other, crossings need to be where people want to cross and leave enough time for safe crossings. Roads need to be low traffic flow or have segregated bike lanes for children to cycle on. Without these things in place, we know it is sometimes more attractive for people to drive, as they feel safer.

Good for >  Every school, everywhere.

How to get started?

Public transport is also an important solution - an update on how to campaign for this coming soon. 

Something to consider

When looking for solutions to school run congestion, it is important to think about why people are driving to school. Two key factors are:

1. How far are children travelling?

More than a mile, and we know this will mean they are far more likely to drive, particularly if they are primary school aged. [For more information on what factors lead people to drive the school run, go here.] 

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Data analysis

We've got information on how far children are travelling to school in your part of London. Click here for more information.

2. What's missing in your local area?

Are there lots of would-be cyclists, travelling between 1-2 miles, but no cycle lanes? Is there very little public transport? Once you understand what is missing from the range of school run solutions locally, it's easier to know what to focus on. If there is cycle infrastructure, and journeys aren't too long, a formally organised bike bus might reduce pressure on parents a few days each week. If distances are long and public transport is poor, car-pooling might be a good option. School bus services can be co-ordinated using phone apps and smart route planning. School run solutions are constantly evolving along with technology.

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