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Smarter Travel to School

Welcome to the smarter travel to school intranet pages. The aim of these pages is to provide useful information and practical toolkits to support schools to promote active and sustainable travel to school, for pupils, parents/carers and staff.

Why encourage smarter travel to school?

Around 86% of primary school pupils live less than a mile from their school in West Lothian (40% for secondary schools, 2015/16 pupil roll). The journey to school has a significant impact on peak-time traffic levels and local air quality, levels of parking within and around schools, and on the physical and mental health of pupils (and carers and teachers).

Promoting sustainable and active travel to school can also support curriculum topics, Eco-Schools and Rights Respecting School awards, amongst others.

A few reasons to promote smarter travel travel to school:

  • Sustrans estimate the 'school run' accounts for up to 20% of peak time traffic levels in the morning. Congestion causes frustration, delay to journeys and loss of productive time to the economy.
  • Road traffic generates emissions are harmful to health and contribute to climate change. There is one declared Air Quality Management Area in West Lothian, in Broxburn High Street, and other areas being monitored include Linlithgow High Street. Fine particulates (one of the types of emissions from vehicles) have been estimated to cause around 59 premature deaths annually in West Lothian alone - more detail at Estimating Local Mortality Burdens associated with Particulate Air Pollution: Public Health England 2014.
  • Physical activity levels amongst adults and children in Scotland have been declining for many years. Some research suggests physical inactivity kills as many people as smoking and more than obesity (Inactivity kills more than obesity (BBC))​. Walking, cycling and scooting to school are a great opportunity to fit physical activity into a child's day.
  • Children who travel actively to school (walking, cycling, scooting) are more mentally alert and productive in class. It also teaches children important cognitive skills. An interesting article here Active travel to school and concentration (CityLab).​
  • It's fun! Walking, cycling and scooting to school gives children and young adults time to relax and socialise before and after school. As the research Learning from success: active travel in schools (GCPH) quotes "You get to meet your pals but you wouldn't if you were run into school, plus you can talk to them for longer instead of just being dropped at the school and waiting for folk".