81% of London parents demand a safer journey to school

Research commissioned by walking and cycling charity Sustrans ahead of this week’s Bike to School Week shows 81per cent of parents in London want councils to make it easier for families to walk and cycle to school.

In Croydon, TfL-funded wands have made the cycle lane on London Road a much safer proposition

Asked if they enjoyed their route to school, 47per cent of London parents said they enjoyed it. It is the highest rating among all the regions of England.

But 53per cent of London parents said they disliked their route to school, the reason given was congestion.

With Transport for London funding 430 new School Streets across the capital and with 64 new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in place, London is ahead of the rest of the country in making it easier for people to walk and cycle.

The bolder action taken by TfL and councils in London over the past few months is reflected in the YouGov survey responses, with a third of parents saying they had noticed changes made to the built environment.

In the rest of the country, 8 in 10 parents said they had not noticed change.

More children walked to school in London (47per cent) prior to the pandemic than in any other region.

Among the key findings of the survey, conducted by YouGov:

  • 81% of London parents say it’s essential local authorities now take steps to make it easier for families to walk and cycle to school
  • 65% support the changes that have been made to streets during the pandemic
  • 39% of London parents said safer crossings would encourage them to walk to school
  • 39% said that cycle routes separated from traffic would help them start cycling to school.
  • 47% of parents in London said that their children walked to school
  • Congestion is the No1 reason parents don’t like the school journey

James Austin, Sustrans London Director, said: “Nearly half London households don’t have access to a car, so TfL and councils have a duty of care to make the capital’s streets accessible to everyone, and that, importantly, includes children.

Cycling Commissioner Will Norman: working for safer school runs in London

“The vast majority of parents in London want councils to make it easier for children to walk and cycle to school. London is ahead of the rest of the UK in rolling out changes to help create streets where families can feel safe cycling or walking to school.

“But we still desperately need more people to ditch the car for the school run. With congestion the top reason for people not enjoying the school run, helping more people to walk and cycle by making the roads safer is a no-brainer.”

And Will Norman, the Mayor of London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “It’s more important than ever that families walk or cycle to school so it’s great that so many Londoners support our new School Streets and other Streetspace measures, and are making the most of them.

“We are working constructively with the vast majority of councils to make it safer and easier to do the school run on foot, by bike or even by scooter. This latest data shows these changes are not only necessary to avoid a damaging car-led recovery, but are also what Londoners want.”


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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5 Responses to 81% of London parents demand a safer journey to school

  1. Geoff James says:

    I agree with the sentiments. But in Kenley, around the Hayes School it is clear that the parents are a major contributor to the roads being so dangerous for walking and cycling. Many of the parents are speeding to/from the school for drop-off/pick-up, they often park very selfishly and then they speed away. The area is 20mph but the parents appear convinced that this speed limit does not apply to them.
    I think that getting the parents to respect the speed limit and to be bit more courteous would have a much greater benefit for road safety.

    • Perhaps a request to the school to intervene, to encourage parents not to use the car for the school run.

      • Geoff James says:

        It has been done many many times – the school has tried various interventions, the police go through periods of politely requesting errant car parkers to show consideration. Not much changes.

        As a pedestrian I get shouted at (often by parents with their little ones in the back) that I should get on the pavement. My reply is a polite “Where is the pavement?”. The driver then clearly looks from left to right around and only then realises that there is no pavement on much of Hayes Lane – they then to tend to drive off with no comment (I presume in contain their total embarrassment).

        • Geoff, making polite requests clearly doesn’t work. Given the history of unsuccessful passive interventions that you report, it’s clearly time the council and police got tough on serial offenders and started dishing out fines.

          Living Streets (formerly The Pedestrians’ Association) say that “pavement parking is banned throughout the 32 London boroughs, and the City of London under the Greater London (General Purposes) Act 1974.

          The Highway Code states; ‘You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London’. All councils in London can and should enforce this law by issuing parking tickets to any vehicles parked on pavements, unless there is a sign there that specifically permits it.”

          You can ask Croydon council to get onto this via your local councillor, or if they refuse to help, going directly to the council’s leader and chief executive.

          The police can and do enforce the 20mph speed limit, and a request to the Met’s Roads & Transport division via the Kenley Safer Neighbourhood team should lead to positive action.

          If you take up the challenge and do the above, the outcomes would make an interesting and worthwhile follow-up story.

  2. Lewis White says:

    A couple of arising thoughts …….
    firstly, daylight. Some 50 years ago, when the roads were far less busy on the rural-suburban fringe of Surrey and what is now Greater London, I used to cycle 4 miles into Sutton to school. and 4 miles home — in winter , in the dusk and dark. Even then, there were lots of cars, and speeds were as high as now. In today’s world, with even busier roads, especially at dusk, when street lighting seems less effective than in the darker hours of night, cyclists are far from being easily visible. Safety is important if children are going to ride to schol

    Does the Covid era national debate about a better future make us think of reducing school hours in winter to ensure that all children and teenagers going and returning from school–whether by bike, on foot, or by public transport, could do so in the light? Do we really need all that education??

    Second, why do so many parents drive their children to school?. The educational grass is often percieived to be greener in another borough, so maybe that is one answer. The location of new schools in non-central locations in suburban edge locations where public transport is not great, another. Kenley is an example. The solution?. Well, how about converting the Whitgift Centre to a new inner Croydon School, with real grass playing fields, accessible from all points of the Croydon compass by children on bike, bus or tram or train?

    My “Heath-Robinson” solution is that every home in the UK should be given a UK-made compact electric car based on the mini-Moke or an updated take on a Lee-Enfield motorcycle combination, equipped with rain / sun awnings that fly off at 31 mph, and governor to reduce speeds to 20mph in residential areas. The benefit would be clear– no street pollution, low space requirements in the streets for parking by parents, and adherence with the 30mph speed limits, fresh air and a bracingly cold ride to school on winter mornings(good for mental and physical health) , plus of course, a revitalised UK motorcycle and car making industry, and increased demand for woolly jumpers, anoraks, bobble hats and goggles.

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