Popularity on the increase for Active Travel to and from school

The Health Improvement Commission’s Be Active team works to help more people, get more active, more often. One of the most effective ways of increasing activity, is by championing active travel.

A recent ‘Active Travel Audit’, undertaken twice yearly by Bailiwick Schools, has shown that 42% of primary school pupils reported themselves to be travelling actively to school and 47% from school. Amongst secondary schools, overall results showed the highest levels of active travel to school since the first survey in June 2020, with 37% of pupils travelling actively to and from school. 

Since the last audit, undertaken in October 2021, all schools have seen an increase or equalled their number of pupils travelling actively to school. The Commission has measured responses from over 1,800 pupils from 19 schools and have found an increase in active travel since the same audit was undertaken immediately after the first lockdown in June 2020. The Be Active team is working to create positive community initiatives and advocate for the development of environments which encourage and enable everyday physical activity and are pleased to see these results:

‘Active Travel became much more popular in the lockdowns, and it’s reassuring to see that this popularity is continuing to grow, in how the island’s children travel to and from school. We’d like to say a huge ‘well done’ to the schools for encouraging active travel, and to the families who are making this happen.

It is fantastic to see that some schools who have worked really hard at advocating active travel have shown a significant increase in the numbers of pupils travelling actively. For example two primary schools increased levels of active travel by about a third. Our next steps are look at how they’ve achieved this and to share ideas and best practice to help support other schools to implement change.’

Active Travel Officer, Alex Costen

‘Speaking in both a political and personal capacity as a parent of primary and secondary school students, I’m really pleased to see that the Be Active audit has confirmed the strikingly positive change that I’ve seen on the ground in schools across the island. My own ‘school run’ is a radically different experience compared to a few years ago: there are far more families walking, wheeling and riding into school now, and far less traffic in the vicinity, which makes it a much safer and more pleasant experience. That’s given even more families the confidence to travel actively to school, which is great news from a health and environmental perspective – plus studies have shown it also gives children a head start educationally as well, as it improves their concentration in the classroom.’

Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, President of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure

A school which has seen an increase in its active travel numbers is Haute Capelles Primary. The school introduced a range of measures to encourage this, including a ‘head start’ on the way home for cyclists as well as a small rack for parents/carers to leave bikes.

‘I am delighted that our recent initiative has affected such a positive change in the number of children using active travel to go home from school. Enabling our cyclists and pedestrians to have a 10 minute head start on exiting the site has bought many benefits to the school community. Our numbers of cyclists has doubled, we now have very young children cycling and an increased number of parents who cycle with their children and continue to work on their bikes. Increased numbers of families now walk some or all of the journey and report that with reduced traffic they feel safer on the narrow pavements and our cyclists are reporting that they are now cycling to and from school as they feel much safer on the roads. So a double win in terms of increasing physical activity and less pollution into the atmosphere!’

Sue Coughlin, Head Teacher

“It’s much easier to cycle now and healthier for me too rather than being in a car” - Jane aged 11

“It’s much easier to cycle now with the new system as there are no cars” - Digby aged 9

“It’s really quick and I enjoy cycling with my friends as its fun” - Charlie aged 11

Pupils from Haute Capelles Primary