Kids march in their thousands calling for safer streets

12 June 2013

Brake, the road safety charity
T: 01484 559909 E: news@brake org.uk

More than 100,000 kids from 600 schools across the UK are marching for road safety today as part of the charity Brake's Giant Walking Bus. The event aims to celebrate the benefits of walking and calls on drivers to 'GO 20' – slow down to 20 or below around homes, schools and shops – to protect kids on foot and enable more to walk. It also calls for more safe walking and cycling measures such as widespread 20 limits and safe pavements, paths and crossings.

In a survey by Brake of more than 11,000 kids taking part in the event, children explained their need for safer streets to enable them to get out more on foot and bike. It found:

  • three quarters (76%) think more kids would walk or cycle to school if roads were made safer
  • more than half (54%) say their route to school needs to be made safer for walking and cycling
  • two in three (69%) want more paths, cycle paths and crossings in their neighbourhood they can use to walk or cycle to school, or the park, shops or to see friends
  • one in three (33%) report being scared by traffic when walking or cycling in their neighbourhood.

Across Britain, almost as many primary school children are now driven to school as walk: 42% are driven, while 48% walk and 1% cycle [1]. Research shows parents' concerns for kids' safety are a barrier to getting more children walking and cycling [2], impacting on children's health and contributing to congestion and traffic danger.

Every school day in the UK, 23 children are run over and hurt when walking or cycling to or from school and four of these children are killed or suffer serious, sometimes life-long, injuries. That's 713 children killed or seriously injured walking or cycling to school each year [3]. Death on the road is the biggest non-medical killer of school aged children, greater than drowning, falls or accidental poisoning combined [4].

The GO 20 campaign – by Brake and a coalition of charities – calls for 20mph to become the norm in built-up areas, and appeals to drivers to slow down, to make roads safer for kids and adults on foot and bike. A recent World Health Organisation report on pedestrian safety urged widespread 20mph limits where people live, as they are proven to reduce casualties and encourage walking and cycling [5].

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Many parents are in a difficult situation when it comes to letting their kids walk or cycle, often forced to weigh up the benefits of their kids being active and getting out and about with the risk of their child being knocked down and hurt. We need to make it easier for them by making roads safer for children and people of all ages, to help kids have the fun, active childhood they deserve – and a proven way to do this is to reduce traffic speeds. We're appealing to drivers to listen to the thousands of kids marching today, and take the simple step of slowing down to 20mph or less around homes, schools and shops. It's a case of putting kids before getting there a few minutes faster. We're also urging the government to work towards 20mph being the norm in all communities, to help kids everywhere get walking without being put in danger."

About Giant Walking Bus

Brake's Giant Walking Bus is an annual event in primary schools where children learn about traffic pollution and danger, and transport choices. Schools taking part get their kids to march (in a crocodile of supervised kids, holding hands on safe pavements, or around the school's grounds) which gives kids a voice, helping them tell drivers to slow down and look out for people on foot. Kids can be sponsored to take part, helping fund Brake's campaigns and services for families bereaved and injured by road crashes. 

Regional statistics

A regional breakdown of results from the survey of children is available in the regional press releases, alongside further information about regional activities. 

Read press releases for Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, South East, London, South, South West, East Anglia, East Midlands, West Midlands, Lincolnshire and Humberside, Yorkshire, North West, North East and Cumbria

About the GO 20 campaign

GO 20 is a coalition campaign backed by 12 charities calling for all our communities to GO 20, on the basis that GOing 20 means:

  • Fewer casualties: at 20, drivers have more time to react and stop in time if they need to. Studies show when 20 limits replace 30, it means 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.

Read more about the case for GO 20. See quotes from academics in support of GO 20.

Advice for parents

Deciding at what age to let children walk or cycle to school unsupervised is a difficult decision for many parents, who are faced with having to weigh up the benefits of their child living an active lifestyle with the threat of their child being hurt by traffic. Research shows many are put off letting their child get out and about by traffic danger [12]. Making roads safer helps more parents to let kids 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 a 20mph limit, 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.

Read more advice for parents.

Brake

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 66 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (18-24 November 2013), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

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.

End notes:

[1] Statistics requested from Department for Transport as part of National Travel Survey 2009-10

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

[3] Reported road casualties Great Britain annual reports 2011, Department for Transport 2012, and Police recorded injury road traffic collisions and casualties Northern Ireland annual report 2011, Police Service of Northern Ireland, 2012. 190 school days a year.

[4] Death registrations in England and Wales: Table 5 Deaths by age, sex and underlying cause, 2011 registrations

[5] Pedestrian safety: a road safety manual for decision makers and practitioners, 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 in March 2012

Tags: road safety speed school cycling children Kid's Walk vulnerable road users Giant Walk