Seven in 10 people believe more parents would ditch the car for the school run if the journey was safer on foot

15 June 2016

  • 72% think more children would walk/cycle if routes to school were safer
  • 38% scared of traffic in their neighbourhood
  • 65% think school routes should be made safer for walkers and cyclists
  • 67% want more walking paths and dedicated cycle paths

A survey to mark Brake’s 2016 Giant Walk has revealed that many people feel frightened when they make journeys on foot or by bike. It also shows most people think far more families would walk and cycle to school, if they felt it was safer to do so.

Brake’s annual Giant Walk, supported by Ageas, sees thousands of children from schools across the UK holding walking events to support road safety and highlight the benefits that walking and cycling can bring for both individuals and the planet as a whole. The children will also be reminding people that fast and dangerous driving can put young lives at risk, and encouraging drivers to slow down and look out for people on foot and bike.

The UK has a poor record for protecting children on foot and bike compared to many of our European neighbours[i]. Half of our children are driven to school, resulting in more danger to vulnerable road users in the area, damage to health and the environment from a rise in pollution, and the increased health risk associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

38% of those questioned in the study told Brake they have felt scared by traffic while out walking or cycling in their neighbourhood. 65% of people believe more should be done to make routes to schools safer for children on foot and bike. More than two thirds of those questioned (67%) said they would like there to be more paths, cycle paths and crossings in their neighbourhood that they could use to get about more easily.

Slower speeds are especially important for protecting children. In 2014, 53 children under 16 were killed and 2,029 were seriously injured on British roads: that’s almost six children seriously hurt or killed every day. The majority (80%) were on foot or bicycle at the time[ii]. Research has found that children cannot judge the speed of approaching vehicles travelling faster than 20mph, so may believe it is safe to cross when it is not[iii].

Another recent study for Brake[iv] saw 44% of drivers admit they have broken a 20mph speed limit by at least 5mph in the last year, with one in five (20%) confessing they do it every week.  

Brake wants more people to choose to walk or cycle, if they can, and to encourage people to do this, we must have lower speed limits, dedicated cycle lanes, wide pavements and safe places to cross the road. 

Lowering traffic speed limits to 20mph, specifically, is known to reduce casualties and create a safer road environment, especially for people on foot and bicycle. Analysis of 75 20mph-limit sites in Scotland found casualties dropped 42%[v]. 20mph or 30km/h limits are recommended by the World Health Organisation as a key measure to improve pedestrian safety and save lives[vi].

Almost six in 10 people (58%) think the best thing we can do to keep kids safe on the way to school is more designated walking and cycling routes.

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns, said: “Brake’s Giant Walk is a great way for schools to highlight the need for safer roads in their communities to enable children to be able to walk or cycle to school without fear or threat from traffic. Every year as part of this fantastic event, schools use resources and support from Brake to run lessons across a variety of subjects around the theme of road safety and active travel.

“Brake’s Giant Walk is a terrific opportunity to educate children about the importance of road safety and what advantages there are in walking to school for their own health and the environment. It is also a call on local drivers to make a big difference by slowing down to protect children on foot and bike. We’re urging schools to sign up now to take full advantage of the resources and support Brake offers to help schools get involved.”

Natalie Shale, Head of Communications at Ageas, said: “Ageas is delighted to be partnering Brake as part of our continued commitment to road safety. The Giant Walk is a fantastic initiative benefiting young children and communities, and helps us to further increase awareness of the importance of road safety to people's lives.”


Notes to Editors:

For more information from Brake call:

Campaigns team: (01484) 55 00 63 / or email

The average number of walking trips per person has decreased by 27% since 1995 in Britain, and less than a quarter (22%) of journeys and just 3% of miles travelled in Britain are now on foot[vii].

Similarly, cycling still only accounts for a very small proportion of journeys in Britain, and road safety is a major factor in putting many people off. Just 2% of journeys and 1% of miles travelled are made by bike[viii]

Full national survey results

Q.1 Have you ever felt scared by traffic when walking or cycling in your neighbourhood?

YES: 38%

NO:   62%

Q.2 Do you think the route between your home and school should be made safer for kids to walk or cycle?

YES: 65%

NO:   35%

Q.3 Would you like there to be more paths, cycle paths and crossings in your neighbourhood that you could use to walk or cycle to the park, shops, to see friends or get to school?

YES: 67%

NO:   33%

Q.4 Do you think more children would walk or cycle to school if roads were safer?

YES: 72%

NO:   28%

Q.5 What more should be done to keep kids safe on the way to school?

More 20mph areas                                                                                  26%

More designated cycle lanes and improved conditions for walking       58%  

They should always be taken by car                                                      2%

Nothing needs to be done                                                                     14%     


About Brake’s Giant Walk

Brake’s Giant Walk is an annual event in primary schools where children learn about traffic pollution and danger, and transport choices. Schools taking part get their pupils to walk (in a crocodile of supervised kids, holding hands on safe pavements, or around the school’s grounds), which gives children a voice, helping them tell drivers to slow down and look out for people on foot. Children can be sponsored to take part and schools can run fundraising events, helping fund Brake's campaigns and services for families bereaved and injured by road crashes. This year's Giant Walk takes place on Wednesday 15 June. 

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, 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 campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, 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.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

About Ageas

Ageas is an award-winning Personal and Commercial insurance provider in the UK, employing over 5,500 people with offices based across the UK. For more information about Ageas please visit

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.


Tags: research school cycling traffic children cyclist pedestrians Giant Walk