Educators urged to join the GO 20 campaign for a 2012 legacy of safe walking and cycling

As survey shows 7 in 10 kids are prevented from walking and cycling by traffic danger

19 November 2012

Brake, the road safety charity
t: 01484 559909 e:  

Schools are being urged to get involved with a national campaign launched today (19 November) appealing to drivers and authorities to GO 20, to bring about a 2012 legacy of safe walking and cycling for everyone. Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on all educators to support the campaign as a survey released today shows that more than half of children worry about being hurt by traffic when out and about.

Thousands of schools across the UK are appealing to drivers to slow down to 20mph or below in communities, and calling for 20mph limits across built up areas, so children, families and adults can walk and cycle for their health and enjoyment, and as a cheap and sustainable travel choice, without being endangered.

Brake is encouraging schools to teach children and teenagers about the benefits of 20mph limits and staying safe when walking, cycling and in cars, and also to engage pupils in raising awareness among local drivers about the need to slow down to protect children. Educators can access guidance on this at

Schools can also report their concerns about pupils' safety on local streets by calling Brake's Zak the Zebra hotline on 08000 68 7780 to receive a campaign action pack.

As the GO 20 campaign is launched at the start of Road Safety Week through street parties and demonstrations across the UK (see below), a survey of more than 8,000 children [1] age 7-11 by Brake and partners Brain Injury Group and Specsavers reveals how the majority of children are being prevented from leading active, healthy lifestyles by traffic danger:

  • Seven in 10 (70%) say they would be able to walk and cycle more if roads in their neighbourhood were less dangerous
  • More than three-quarters (77%) say drivers need to slow down around their home and school
  • Four in 10 (43%) say they have been hit or nearly hit while walking or cycling, and more than half (54%) worry about being hurt by traffic when out and about

A further survey of 280 [2] teachers across the UK reveals that the vast majority believe more should be done to keep children safe on the roads:

  • Nine in 10 (94%) believe roads around their schools and routes connecting their schools with local homes should be made safer for children walking and cycling.
  • Four in five believe roads around their school and routes connecting their schools with local homes would benefit from 20mph limits.

Brake is highlighting that slower speeds in towns, cities and villages can help deliver a post-2012 legacy of active communities, and prevent devastating casualties among pedestrians and cyclists, which increased in 2011 (see below). Many local authorities are recognising the benefits by implementing town and city-wide 20 limits. Brake is calling for: more authorities to follow suit; the government to work towards 20mph being the norm in communities; and drivers to pledge to GO 20 in built up areas, even where 30 limits remain.

Why GO 20:

  • Fewer casualties: at 20, drivers have much more time to react, to help them stop in time if they need to, like if a child runs out. Studies show that when 20 limits replace 30, it means fewer casualties among pedestrians and cyclists [3].
  • 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 [4].
  • 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 [5]. 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 [6]. Road casualties cost even more, due to the suffering and burden on health and emergency services [7]. Preventing casualties and improving health means GOing 20 pays for itself many times over [8]. 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.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, says: "Everyone should be able to walk and cycle in their community without fear or threat: it's a basic right, and GO 20 is about defending that. The 2012 Games helped us all realise the importance of being able to live active lifestyles. Critical to this is making our streets and communities safe places we can use and enjoy. Anyone who drives can help bring this about: pledge to GO 20 in communities, even where the limit's still 30: you'll be doing something good for people around you, and you'll hardly notice the difference to your journey. We're also calling on government and authorities everywhere to recognise the need for 20mph, and the huge demand for safe walking and cycling, and GO 20."

Danny Crates, Paralympics presenter, gold medal winner and GO 20 ambassador, says: "I am passionate about children being able to live healthy, happy, active lives: it's something all kids should be able to do, not just the privileged few. Bringing about the 2012 legacy we all want to see isn't only about providing sports facilities. It's also about making our towns, cities and villages places where kids and adults can get out and about – running, walking, cycling, visiting friends, going to the park – without being put in danger, or even being hurt or killed. That's why I'm behind GO 20, and appealing to everyone who's been inspired by the Games to get behind this important campaign."

Drivers and non-drivers can pledge their support for safer walking and cycling at

More survey results

8,061 children age 7-11 gave their views through hands-up surveys in schools across the UK. As well as the results above:

  • 72% said they would like to walk and cycle more than they do at present
  • 75% would like more traffic-free cycle paths in their area, while 61% would like more footpaths, pavements and crossings, which they could use to get to school, the park, shops or to see friends
  • 38% said they are not allowed to walk unaccompanied and 47% said they are not allowed to cycle unaccompanied.

Compare results from different UK regions on this restricted-access web page.

Pedestrian and cyclist casualties

Every day in the UK, 19 adults and seven children are mowed down and killed or seriously hurt when on foot or bike.

In 2011 pedestrian deaths and serious injuries went up significantly, and for the first time in 17 years. Pedestrian deaths increased by 12%, while serious injuries increased by 5%. 466 people were killed on foot in 2011 and 5,654 were seriously injured. Of these victims, 31% (1,901) were children: 50 child pedestrians were killed in 2011 and 1,851 suffered serious injuries.

While cyclist deaths decreased by 2% in 2011, serious injuries increased by 16%. 109 cyclists were killed in 2011 and 3,132 suffered serious injuries. Of these victims, 16% (511) were children: 10 child cyclists were killed and 501 suffered serious injuries. [9]

Case studies

Aaron Britt, 16, from Mansfield, was knocked down and killed by a speeding driver outside his college in October 2011. Aaron suffered severe head injuries and died the next day. Read more. Sue Britt, Aaron's mum, said: "Aaron was our only son and we feel empty without him. He was an exceptional young lad; he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life and had set about making it happen. I urge drivers to slow down to 20mph or less where people are so you have time to stop if someone steps out. Simply making a commitment to slow down will mean you're helping to make roads safer, and it could prevent more people losing their lives needlessly, and other families going through the pain and heartache we have. Aaron was kind and thoughtful and did not deserve to die for making a mistake."

Notes for editors

GO 20 is a partnership campaign being launched by Brake at the start of Road Safety Week 2012 (19-25 November). Find out more at

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 (19-25 November 2012), 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 Safety Week is the UK's flagship event to promote safer road use, coordinated annually by the charity Brake and involving thousands of schools, communities and organisations across the country. Road Safety Week 2012 takes place 19-25 November, with support from headline sponsors Brain Injury Group and Specsavers, plus regional sponsors Woop young driver insurance, Bubblebum UK Ltd, Fleet Support Group and Leigh Day & Co Solicitors.

Road crashes are not accidents; the use of the term 'accident' undermines work to reduce road risk and causes insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by drivers taking risks on roads.

End notes

[1] 8,061 children gave their views through 'hands-up' surveys in schools across the UK, Brake, 2012

[2] 280 teachers gave their opinions through written surveys in schools across the UK, Brake 2012.

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

[4] 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

[5] 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

[6] 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

[7] 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

[8] 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

[9] These figures are from Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, Department for Transport, 2011, and Police recorded injury road traffic collisions and casualties Northern Ireland annual report 2011, Police Service of Northern Ireland, 2012. Figures for children were requested from the Department for Transport and Police Service for Northern Ireland and are for children aged 0 – 17.


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