CHILDREN made their voices heard yesterday as they urged drivers to make the streets safe for walking and cycling to school.
Pupils from Haydonleigh Primary School joined more than 100,000 children across the country taking to the streets yesterday as part of the Giant Walking Bus, an initiative co-ordinated by road safety charity Brake and webuyanycar.com.
The event aims to give children the chance to call on drivers and the Government to make their streets safer for walking and cycling, to enable them to live healthy, active lifestyles.
Debbie Yockney, a senior teaching assistant at Haydonleigh Primary School, said: “The Giant Walking Bus is a fantastic opportunity for children to make their voices heard and promote road safety to other children, parents and local drivers.
“Our pupils were marching and shouting out loud about the importance of drivers slowing down in our community, so they can enjoy a healthy, fun, active lifestyle without being endangered.”
In a survey by Brake with 500 children from the south west taking part in the event, they expressed their wish to get out and about more on foot and bike, and for safer streets to allow them to do so.
The survey found that almost three quarters of students would like to walk and cycle more to get to school, go to the park, or to see friends.
“But more than three in five worry they might be run over by traffic when walking or cycling on roads.
And almost four in five think drivers should go slower around their school or home. Brake is calling on drivers and the Government to take action and back its 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 the Government, it means implementing widespread 20mph speed limits in towns, cities and villages, which is one of the most effective measures identified by the World Health Organisation to help in reducing pedestrian casualties.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive for Brake, said: “The children marching for safer roads in Swindon should send a clear message to everyone.
“Kids want to be able to get out and walk and cycle, and by not making our streets safe, we are denying them the fun, active childhoods they deserve. “This has serious implications for their long-term health and wellbeing, the burden on our NHS, the environment, and our society as a whole.
“If we are going to create an environment fit for our children we need to put them – not motor vehicles – first. “We are appealing to drivers to slow down to 20mph or less around homes, schools and shops.
“And we are appealing to local authorities in the south west to continue rolling out 20mph limits “We are also asking the national Government to make 20mph the national urban default.
“We need to make sure our kids and people of all ages – not just the lucky few – can walk and cycle without being endangered.”