Children help to reimagine school streets

04 October 2022
Children working on school active travel plans
Children working on school active travel plans

Children at nine schools in Bebington are helping to make streets in the area safer and healthier for their journeys to school, as part of By Ours Bebington. The community project, led by the charity Sustrans with Wirral Council, helps residents, businesses and schools to redesign their own streets.

By Ours project officer Lou Henderson, has been working with pupils at Brackenwood Infant and Junior Schools, St John Catholic Infant School, St Johns Catholic Junior School, Town Lane Infant School and St Andrews Primary School, as well as three local high schools, The Life Church after school group and the local Brownies.

Children have carried out surveys of their local streets to highlight what they like and what they would like to change. So far children highlighted problems with speeding traffic, pavement parking, lack of safe spaces to cross and litter as key issues that affected their streets on the way to and from school.

Schools are working with Lou to develop Travel Action Plans and to set out how they would improve their streets, and encourage more families to walk, cycle or scoot the school run.

At Brackenwood Infants School, for example, the school has pledged to increase the number of pupils actively travelling to school, make the area outside the school safer, and improve communications to encourage people to choose active travel. This term the children are taking part in events and activities to encourage everyone to get active on their school journeys, including active travel breakfasts and training sessions to become more confident riding on bikes and scooters. They will also work with Sustrans’ street designers to look at how they can redesign their streets to be safer and healthier for everyone.

Some schools are also participating in Cycle to School Week (formerly Bike to School Week) on 3-7 October, led this year by The Bikeability Trust in partnership with Sustrans. During the annual event pupils and families of participating schools walk, wheel and cycle to school instead of driving a car.

Lou Henderson, By Ours project officer for Bebington said:

We’re very excited to be working with schools in Bebington to find out what matters to local children on their streets, and help them find ways of getting active on their school journeys. Children tell us they can feel unsafe walking or cycling on the road, which is a big barrier for many to become more active on their journeys to school. Small steps to redesign the streets can have a big impact on all our health and play a part in tackling environmental issues. If the roads feel safer to walk and scoot down then more parents will choose this option too.

Lou Henderson

Terri McCarthy, Deputy Head at St Andrews Primary School was thrilled to be involved saying: “The children really care about looking after the environment and want to do everything they can to help reduce climate change; they thought a great way to do this would be to encourage children and parents to travel to school in an active way, instead of in cars. The children also know about the health benefits of active travel – they know it is good for the body and the mind and for improving our overall well-being.

"So far we have had a wonderful Active Travel Breakfast, and Dr. Bike and Dr. Scoot sessions – where bikes and scooters were checked and fixed to make sure they are safe for children to ride.”

Chris Mervyn, Headteacher at Brackenwood Infant School added: “Active Travel is an initiative that has been incredibly important to the children, staff and community of Brackenwood Infant School for many years. Encouraging families to walk or cycle to school has helped to reduce some of the congestion on our local roads and helped to promote the health benefits associated with travelling actively to school.

"With the support of Sustrans and the 'By Ours,' project, our school children have developed their own Active Travel Plan and are working tirelessly to spread the positive message of active travel. We are very proud of what they have achieved and becoming the first school on the Wirral to achieve the Bronze Modeshift Award for Active Travel.“

Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of Wirral Council’s Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee, said:

It’s great to see local children being involved in identifying and then seeking solutions to issues which affect their journeys to school, and looking for ways to make them more sustainable. This is a great example of working with the local community, and seeking creative ways to allow more children and young people to use active travel to get to their school.

Cllr Liz Grey

By Ours is a partnership project with Sustrans, Wirral Council and Liverpool City Region, funded by the Freshfield Foundation. It is one of three new pioneering community engagement projects in Liverpool City Region that are helping local people take action to deliver safer, healthier streets for everyone.

The whole community comes together to design a vibrant neighbourhood with cleaner air, where more people walk to shops and services, stop and chat to each other, and children can play out.

Businesses and residents in the area recently received a survey through their doors to gather views about what they like and dislike about their neighbourhood. The survey is now closed but people can continue to contribute their views via an online map.

There are three stages to this collaborative design process:

• views and ideas from residents, businesses and school gathered in survey

• Sustrans designers shape ideas into designs for local people to comment and improve

• Final designs are showcased at schools and street events For more information and events look up