Tuesday 2 June
Brake, the road safety charity
Zak the Zebra, mascot of road safety charity Brake, has galloped into Romford, Essex to join forces with local schools in saying 'let's GO 20!' Thanks to sponsorship from Royal HaskoningDHV, Zak is supporting a community campaign for 20mph speed limits, spearheaded by two local schools.
Campaigners, staff and pupils at Brookside Infant School and Brookside Junior School, both on Dagnam Park Drive, have teamed up to demand 20mph limits in their community, and a lollipop person outside the school. The campaign was set up after a year five pupil was knocked down on a nearby pedestrian crossing in March 2014, suffering severe head injuries and a broken arm.
As well as the schools, the local area has a youth centre and a skate park, and two bus routes run outside the school. Campaigners are adamant that local children should be free to use and travel between their community facilities, by foot or by bike, without fear of being knocked down and hurt or killed by fast traffic.
The campaigners have started a petition, which now has over 2,000 signatures, for a 20mph limit across the area; 3,000 signatures are needed to force a council debate. The campaign is backed by road safety charity Brake as part of its national GO 20 campaign and several local councillors.
Brookside Infant School is hosting a campaign event on Friday 6 June 2014 to push for action. Brake's mascot, Zak the Zebra, will be there to meet parents and pupils and show his support. The school council is working with campaigners to plan a series of activities for the day to raise awareness of road safety. Children will be designing posters, practising crossing the road safely and writing letters to parents reminding them to slow down and look out for people on foot and bike.
Brake campaigns nationally for town, village and city-wide 20mph limits, to protect people where they live, work, learn or play. To find out more about the GO 20 campaign for safe, active, happy communities, and how you can get involved, visit www.brake.org.uk/go20.
Ed Morrow, campaigns officer, Brake, the road safety charity, said: "It is shocking and unacceptable for a young girl to be knocked down and seriously hurt outside her school. Everyone – adults and children – should be able to walk and cycle, to get to school or work, to visit local shops and facilities, or just for their enjoyment, without being endangered by fast traffic. 20mph limits are an effective, tried and tested way of protecting our children, and making our communities more pleasant places for everyone. That's why Brake is 100 per cent behind the Brookside schools' campaign. We hope Zak's visit will help persuade the authorities to listen and act on the community's concerns by implementing a 20mph limit across the community."
Tina Wright, local campaigner, said: "We urgently need improve road safety both around the school and in the wider area before someone else gets hurt. We need a permanent measure so that even during school holidays children are safe, not just at school closing time. We have a new skatepark, playground, and youth centre, but as yet no action to ensure children can get to and enjoy their community facilities safely. The council have deferred taking action, but we want our children to be safe. Finances should not be an issue when it comes to protecting children's lives."
Stephen Bibb, principal transport planner, Royal HaskoningDHV, said: "We are proud to support Brake in their community campaigns for safer roads. We believe that road safety should be proactive and these campaigns are not only important in educating communities but they also support local authorities in helping to prevent needless deaths and injuries on our roads, which devastate too many lives. By supporting Brake's Zak the Zebra campaign, we hope we can help people campaigning on the front line to make our roads safer, more inclusive and sustainable environments for everyone."
Notes for editors
Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community education, a Fleet Safety Forum, practitioner services, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.
Zak the Zebra
To receive support and advice from Brake and Zak the Zebra on campaigning for safer roads locally, community members can report their road safety concerns or campaigns at www.zakthezebra.org. Alternatively, they can call Zak's hotline number, 08000 687 780. The hotline is sponsored by Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, corporate partners of Brake.
Regional Managing Partner at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, Grahame Codd, said: "As personal injury solicitors we are well aware of how road crashes can devastate lives. We are providing the Zak the Zebra hotline to hopefully reduce the shocking number of child casualties on our roads."
Royal HaskoningDHV is an independent, international engineering and project management consultancy with more than 130 years of experience. Providing services in aviation, buildings, energy, industry, infrastructure, maritime, mining, rural areas, urban areas and water all over the world. By showing leadership in sustainable development and innovation, together with our clients, we are working to become part of the solution to a more sustainable society now and into the future.