Safer routes to school investigation

Friday October 11th 2019

School Crossing

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, David Bol

Transport bosses will investigate providing safer walking and cycling routes to schools across the Capital after parents and pupils pleaded for action.

Edinburgh Council’s transport and environment committee agreed to ensure “actions to address safe cycling and walking to primary and secondary schools” are included in an investigation.

Pupils at Duddingston Primary School asked councillors, “please can you make cycle paths so it’s much more safe for schoolchildren to go to school?”

The youngsters, who pointed out that cycling is both good for health and the environment, told the committee that cycling is “more fun than walking because walking is a bit boring” and that “you get to school quicker on your bike”.

Jocelyn Dellar from Duddingston Parent Council, speaking on behalf of the group, called for double yellow lines to be painted outside the school, as well as safer and segregated cycling routes for children to use.

She said “a change to the design of the road (Duddingston Road) is the only way to improve safety”.

She added that “a number of cars sitting outside the school are causing air pollution” by parents keeping their engines running while “getting as close to the school as possible, regardless of safety”. She also claimed that the road is “very dangerous for cyclists” and that the 20mph limit, which they welcome, is “regularly flouted” by motorists.

Pupils at Tollcross Primary School and St John’s Primary School have also raised concerns about safety issued outside schools.

Green Cllr Claire Miller, who tabled a motion calling for an investigation, praised the pupils and parents for speaking out. The motion included a commitment that “all young people should have the opportunity to cycle to school” and called for a forthcoming updated active travel plan to include “a review and implementation plan for safe cycling routes to all primary schools”.

She said: “I’m worried that children are going to be put off travelling on bikes and scooters if they cannot do so safely.

“I’m seeking a commitment to listen to the young people, parents and school staff and agree to support them to form good healthy habits that they can hopefully continue throughout their lives.”

Council officer Ewan Kennedy told councillors “this is a problem we see around schools across the city” and confirmed a “longer-term ambition” is for a segregated cycle route for Duddingston – but that it comes with a £1.2m price tag.

Labour Cllr Scott Arthur says the council “should be taking action”.

He added: “There’s so many children who don’t have a safe walking route or cycling route to school. I feel quite ashamed to hear your story.”

Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, amended the motion but stressed she “wholeheartedly agrees with the intention” and extended the investigation to include secondary schools.

She added: “There’s a greater awareness of the need to encourage children to walk, cycle or scoot to school.
“There are around 90 primary schools in the city. This is not a quick fix but we need to respond as fast as we can.”

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