Friday, July 8, 2022

Waverley Mayor on trail of safe school routes

Waverley Council is on the trail of safer school walking routes for students in a bid to improve the health and security of local children.

The Council this week adopted a Mayoral minute to investigate establishing a series of safe walking routes to local schools.

In her Council motion, Waverley Mayor, Paula Masselos (pictured with local school children), cited figures out of Victoria which showed only 15% of children walked to school last year compared to 40% in the 1970s.

“That needs to change and the best way to do that is by providing safe pedestrian connections to schools,” Mayor Masselos said.

“Waverley is one of the most densely populated areas in Australia and the feedback I’ve received from students as to why they don’t like walking to school is because they don’t feel safe crossing busy main roads.

“We intend to look at the types of safety and traffic signage needed to make crossing these routes much safer as well as traffic speeds and any other adjustments.”

Mayor Masselos says she would like to see principals, P&C associations, police and the broader community work together with Council to develop an outreach and community consultation strategy for how safe walking routes could work.

“We will also look at the budget required to make this a success, including potential state and federal grant funding,” she said.

Active travel such as walking and cycling is now the least common way for children in Australia to travel to school, with most being driven, a 2018 Heart Foundation study showed.

Physical inactivity in children and youth is an international epidemic with one in five primary school children and one in four secondary school in Australia considered obese.

“Research has also shown that children who walk or cycle to school are able to concentrate much better than others during those first few hours of the school day,” Mayor Masselos said.

“VicHealth’s Streets Ahead programme also found that children who walked to school were better able to describe the area they live in, and presumably, better able to navigate their way around.”

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