I would walk 60,000 miles: 100,000 kids across the UK walk for road safety

As survey reveals why many kids aren’t allowed to walk to school

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Brake, the road safety charity

100,000 children across the UK are walking 60,000 miles today (10 June 2015) as part of Brake's Giant Walk, the road safety charity’s initiative sponsored by Brantano. The children are calling on drivers to ‘GO 20’ in communities to make streets safer for them to walk and cycle, and learning about the importance of road safety and active travel. Media are invited to attend Brake’s Giant Walk at 45 schools across the UK on 10 June 2015 – contact news@brake.org.uk for more information.

A Brake survey released today to coincide with the event reveals the extent to which children are being prevented from walking or cycling to school due to road danger:

  • Only a quarter (25%) of parents said the route between their home and their school is safe enough for their children to walk or cycle unsupervised.
  • Road safety concerns came top of the list of factors preventing parents from letting their kids walk or cycle, with 42% citing fast or high volumes of traffic, 40% a lack of safe crossing points, and 35% a lack of safe pavements, footpaths or cycle paths.
  • Only a quarter (25%) put the decision to drive their kids down to distance or time, and only one in 12 (8%) to convenience.
  • Many parents surveyed suggested more safe routes (40%) and crossing points (48%) would make a difference when it comes to deciding whether to let their children walk or cycle to school.

Almost half (46%) of UK primary school children are now driven to school [1], contributing to congestion, poor health and traffic danger. With three in 10 children in England aged two to 15 now overweight or obese [2], getting more kids walking and cycling as part of their everyday routine is critical to averting a looming obesity epidemic. The World Health Organisation recently warned three-quarters of men and two-thirds of women in the UK will be overweight in 15 years’ time if lifestyles do not change [3].

The survey also revealed that a significant minority of parents who drive their kids to school habitually take risks, putting their own and other children in danger. One in eight (12%) commonly talk on a mobile phone and the same proportion speed on the school run.A quarter (23%) don’t stick to 20mph around homes, schools and shops.

Brake is campaigning for drivers and government to take action to make streets safer for kids and help them enjoy a healthy, active, happy childhood, by backing Brake's GO 20 campaign. For drivers, this means slowing down to 20mph or less wherever there may be people on foot or bike, and always keeping a look out for vulnerable road users. For government, this means implementing widespread 20mph speed limits in towns, cities and villages – one of the most effective measures identified by the World Health Organisation to reduce pedestrian casualties [5]. Read more about the GO 20 campaign below.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “Recent reports have provided a stark warning about the potential consequences of the UK slipping further into a spiral of physical inactivity. The impacts will be felt hardest by our children, who could face a lifetime of poor health and have to pick up the bill for rising healthcare costs. This crisis can be averted, but we need urgent action.

“As is clear from the thousands taking part in Brake’s Giant Walk today, kids love to get out and about on foot and bike, and parents want to be able to let them. It is a national scandal that danger from fast traffic often prevents children from having the fun, active, healthy childhoods they deserve. We need drivers, including parents, to stick to 20mph or less in communities to protect kids. We also continue to campaign for government to make 20mph the national urban default and provided sustained funding for safe walking and cycling infrastructure. Safe active travel should be the norm for all our kids, not a luxury.”

Karen Stanton from Brantano said: "It’s brilliant to see so many schools, parents and children getting involved in this year’s Giant Walk and to have our stores joining in today is a fantastic opportunity. The collaboration with Brake allows us to not only raise awareness of the importance of correctly fitting shoes for children’s foot health but also to reinforce messages about the dangers of roads and the importance of safe road use to both children and parents, as well as promoting the health and environmental benefits of walking and cycling to school."

Tweet us: @Brakecharity, hashtag #BrakesGiantWalk.

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.

About Brake’s GO 20 campaign

Brake is part of a coalition of organisations calling for more local authorities to adopt widespread 20mph limits, and for the government to make 20mph the national urban default, through its GO 20 campaignTweet us: @Brakecharity, hashtag #GO20.

Why GO 20?

  • Fewer casualties: at 20, drivers have far more time to react in an emergency. Studies show when 20 limits replace 30, there are fewer casualties among pedestrians and cyclists [6].
  • More walking and cycling: danger from traffic is a major barrier in enabling more people to walk and cycle. Town and city-wide 20 limits have resulted in more people walking and cycling [7].
  • Healthier, happier people: More walking and cycling means healthier people, and more enjoyable outdoors activity for kids and adults. It helps communities interact and be communities.
  • Less pollution: GOing 20 means lower emissions from vehicle journeys [8]. Plus if more people can switch their commute or school run to foot or bike, it means less polluting traffic.
  • Lower costs: Poor health from inactivity costs society dearly [9]. Road casualties cost even more, due to the suffering and burden on health and emergency services [10]. Preventing casualties and improving health means GOing 20 pays for itself many times over [11]. It also helps people save money by choosing the cheapest ways to get about: foot and bike.

Advice for parents

Deciding at what age to let children walk or cycle to school unsupervised is a difficult decision for most parents, who are faced with weighing up the benefits of their child living an active lifestyle with the threat of their child being hurt by traffic. Research shows that many are put off letting their child get out and about by traffic danger [12]. Making roads safer helps more parents choose to let children walk or cycle.

Parents who are worried that their child’s route to school isn’t safe enough have a number of options. If it’s possible, they could walk with their child to school, helping to keep them safe, or set up a walking bus with the help of other parents. They could also work with the school to set up a local campaign for safer roads, calling for measures such as 20mph limits, crossings, pavements and paths. They can also check if their child’s school runs practical pedestrian and cyclist training, and encourage them to contact the local authority to provide this if they don’t.

See www.brake.org.uk/families for more advice for parents.

Notes for editors

About the survey and full results

These results, released today (10 June 2015), are from a survey of 1,000 parents of children aged 5-11, conducted by independent survey company Surveygoo in March 2015.

Q1. What factors prevent you from allowing your child(ren) to walk or cycle to school (supervised or unsupervised) more or at all? (tick all that apply)

  • Lack of safe pavements, footpaths and/or cycle paths – 35%
  • Lack of safe crossing points – 40%
  • Lack of cycle or pedestrian training for my child – 17%
  • Fast and/or high volume traffic – 42%
  • Too far/takes too long – 25%
  • Safety concerns other than road safety, e.g. crime – 33%
  • Inconvenience (e.g. it would disrupt me getting to work) – 8%
  • None - I am already comfortable allowing my children to walk or cycle to school – 22%

Q2. Would any of these factors help persuade you to allow your child(ren) to walk or cycle to school (supervised or unsupervised) more or at all? (tick all that apply)

  • Creation of safe pavements, footpaths and/or cycle paths – 40%
  • More safe crossing points – 48%
  • Free cycle or pedestrian training for my child – 29%
  • Lower speed limits including 20mph limits in communities – 34%
  • More speed enforcement – 30%
  • Other – 3%
  • None of these factors are relevant in persuading me – 14%
  • My children already walk and cycle to school all the time – 19%

Q3. Do you think the route between your house and your child(ren)’s school is safe enough for your child to walk and cycle?

  • Yes – 25%
  • Yes, but only if they are supervised – 50%
  • No – 24%
  • Don’t know – 1%

Q4. Do you drive your child(ren) to school?

  • Yes, always/almost always – 31%
  • Most of the time – 16%
  • Less than half the time – 7%
  • Occasionally – 18%
  • No, never – 28%

Q5. If you drive your child to school at all, when you do this do you usually do any of the following?

  • Drop your child off right outside the school – 61%
  • Slow down to 20mph or below around homes schools and shops – 77%
  • Drive at a crawl when driving right outside the school – 63%
  • Talk on a phone while driving (including hands-free) – 12%
  • Break speed limits to get there on time – 12%


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 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.

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.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

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.


Brantano has stores nationwide and offer an extensive range of shoes and brands to suit all budgets. Offering convenient out of town shopping with most of its stores located on retail parks, the shopping experience is unlike many other traditional footwear shops, as the shoes are displayed in pairs that can be easily selected and tried on immediately. The stores all offer a free fitting service, with staff trained by top brands such as Clarks, Start Rite and Hush Puppies. The team are put through rigorous training followed by at least 25 supervised fits before being given the title of ‘expert fitter’. For more information visit www.brantano.co.uk.

End notes

[1] National Travel Survey: 2013, Department for Transport, 2014. Brake’s survey, released today (10 June 2015) also found that 47% of parents of primary school age children drive them to school most or all of the time.

[2] Health Survey for England – 2013, Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2014

[3] WHO report: 74% of men and 64% of women in UK to be overweight by 2030, The Guardian, 6 May 2015

[4] Kids want to get active: thousands march for safer streets, Brake, 11 June 2014

[5] Pedestrian Safety, World Health Organisation, 2013

[6] For example, 20mph speed reduction initiative, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2001;  20mph Speed Limit Pilots Evaluation Report, Warrington Borough Council, 2010

[7] Where widespread 20 limits have been introduced levels of walking and cycling increased by 20% Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012

[8] Environmental effects of 30 km/h in urban areas – with regard to exhaust emissions and noise, The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, 1999

[9] The annual costs of physical inactivity in England are estimated at £8.2 billion. At least five a week - evidence on the impact of physical activity and its relationship to health - a report from the Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, 2004

[10] Road casualties in Britain cost an estimated £34.8billion in 2011, due to the burden on health and emergency services, criminal justice costs, insurance payouts, and human costs. Reported road casualties Great Britain annual reports 2011, Department for Transport, 2012

[11] In Bristol, 20mph resulted in a massive return on investment because of cost savings to the health service through increased physical activity. They used the World Health Organisation’s Health Economic Assessment Tool to estimate the changes in costs. They found for every £1 spent they saw a return of £24.72 through increased walking and £7.47 through increased in cycling. Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012.  Reducing speeds in urban environments reduces casualties. For each 1mph speed reduction, casualties decrease by 5%, The effects of drivers’ speed on the frequency of road accidents, Transport Research Laboratory, 2000, fewer crashes reduces the burden on the NHS, emergency services and local economy.  Each death on roads costs £1.7 million and each serious injury costs £190,000, Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, Department for Transport, 2012

[12] Survey of 1,000 parents of children under 16 conducted by Redshift research on behalf of Brake and Churchill Car Insurance, March 2012