INDEPENDENT NEWS

Wheel-less Buses Claim Auckland footpaths

Published: Fri 3 Oct 2003 01:12 PM
Wheel-less Buses Claim Auckland footpaths
29 September 2003
Children and mayors across the Auckland region are tightening their laces for International Walk to School Week from the 6th – 10th October, celebrating the local success of walking school buses (WSBs).
International Walk to School Day, on Wednesday 8th October, will see mayors take to the streets with some of the 60 walking school buses currently operating around the region.
Around 1,600 school children and 900 parents in the Auckland region are helping to reduce congestion by saving nearly 1,260 car trips per day around school communities. A WSB provides a safe option for children as young as five to walk to and from school. An adult “driver” takes the lead and a “conductor” walks behind, with official stops along the way.
Auckland Regional Council Passenger Transport Chairwoman, Catherine Harland, says the reduced congestion experienced on Auckland roads during school holidays reminds us why reducing car trips to school is a highly effective way of tackling Auckland’s car congestion.
“Parents taking children to and from school in cars contributes to much of the roading gridlock every weekday but often kids prefer to walk,” she says.
“Walking school buses are an example of community-led partnerships delivering real results. International Walk to School Week and Day is an excellent opportunity for mayors and local politicians to show support for the commitment of many volunteer parents and encourage more schools to adopt the initiative. As well as parents of young children everyone who wants to reduce car congestion should take a walk on International Walk to School Day.”
Walking school buses also address the road safety concerns of schools and parents. High traffic volumes, the presence of parked cars and lack of adult accompaniment are known risk factors for child pedestrian injury.
Over 30% of all pedestrian related injury crashes in the Auckland region involve school-aged children. Children who learn safe walking behaviour are more likely to turn that behaviour into safe road user practices as adults.
WSB routes currently cover around 120 kilometres of roads in the Auckland region, and have an average length of 1.2 kilometres. The first WSB was Gladstone Primary School's 'Zippy's Walking Bus' launched in 1999. Funding from Infrastructure Auckland, administered by RoadSafe Auckland, has enabled the expansion of the scheme throughout the region.
ENDS

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