Traffic trouble outside the school gates is nothing new. Parents are increasingly taking a selfish attitude to the congestion and air pollution they are creating by driving to school. Predictably the attitude is that someone else should solve the problem.
One school in Stoke-on-Trent is aiming to manage the situation by charging parents £45 a year to park in a new car park the school is to build. The controversial pay to park plan has sparked national attention and brought into focus the various measures for handling traffic at the school gates.
I don’t have a problem with schools charging parents who drive close to schools, but believe passionately that St Gregory’s Catholic Academy is missing the point and the school should be developing a broader strategy. There must be a carrot as well as a stick – and the carrot should be enthusiastic encouragement of walking and cycling to school – not a shiny new car park.
Our charity’s walk to school packages celebrate their 10th anniversary this coming academic year and are making an enormous impact in terms of reducing traffic congestion and pollution levels at the school gates and tackling obesity levels in children and their parents.
This year, for the first time ever, our schemes have removed 250,000 school run vehicles from Kent roads. Active Bug, Green Footsteps and Walk on Wednesday all aim to tease families out of their car using a variety of treats, rewards and competitive challenges to deliver incremental behaviour change.
The grumpy grown-ups that rule the school run can and do change their ways when presented with the right strategies and messages.
What my charity needs are extra business sponsors to benefit from this high profile initiative by writing a small cheque to subsidise our work at your local schools. If you want to be part of the solution rather than simply grumbling about the problem, then give me a call on 07989 164 752, or email firstname.lastname@example.org