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Walking bus - sad response - cockle {P}
School run has been much discussed in the Back Room over the last few months and many suggestions made as to how reductions in the traffic can be achieved. Locally several schools have set up 'walking buses' whereby several parents operate a rota to escort a group of children to school on foot. All in all they seem to have been well received and, although not the total answer, have made some impact on traffic around those schools.

The headteacher of my younger son's school sent out a notice a couple of weeks back asking if parents would be interested in a 'walking bus' scheme for our school. Initial feedback was quite good so he arranged a meeting to get it off the ground at which the local council co-ordinator was booked to attend.

The school is one of the largest primary schools in Essex and has 850ish children on role.
At the appointed date and time the attendance was:- the headteacher, nine parents and, er, NO ONE ELSE!!!
Even the council co-ordinator failed to attend!
The head was clearly embarrassed by the whole situation but made the best of it and knowing him for some years he won't give up that easily. He has achieved some remarkable changes to the school over the last 20 odd years and has come through far worse but it must be very difficult seeing that lack of support.
Daft thing is you'll see more parents in one group moaning about the traffic problems than bothered to attend that meeting.

Walking bus - sad response - Sooty Tailpipes
Part of the problem IMHO, is the closure of local schools in favour of larger amalgamations. Also, with the vast diversity of modern day Britain, there are some really terrible schools about, so parents have to send their children to schools miles away. These larger schools are too large to function properly (like the hospitals today) and cause congestion as huge numbers converge to one location.
Walking bus - sad response - cockle {P}
Point taken, joosisiqu, but this particular school has been pretty much this size since 1955 and is within a mile of two others almost as large. The density of family housing in this part of town means that most houses have school age children.

I just don't understand the apathy when an opportunity has arisen to do something, however small, to help improve things.

Walking bus - sad response - googolplex
As I wrote on the previous thread, I think all this anti-school run stuff is discriminatory (and just for the record, my boy walks).
Parents have just as much right to use the road as anyone else. It would make as much if not more sense to me to ban goods vehicles between 7 and 9 am and again from 5 to 6 in the evening. After all, they have the rest of the day and night to get around the country ;o)

Walking bus - sad response - M.M

I think that was a democratic vote of 840 to 10 in favour of continuing car use.

I don't like the walking bus idea.

In our area two things cause what little school run problem there is. Closure of other village schools lumping all the kids into one, many who have to travel by car. Secondly the allowance of housing planning permissions that both crowd the immediate area of the school and provide more kids in additional distant houses that then need to travel.

No one person seems responsible for looking at this in its broadest sense. The last person to blame is the parent using their right to choose the transport method.

Walking bus - sad response - Baskerville

I'd be interested to know why you don't like the walking bus idea.

But also why is this a vote of 850 to 10 against? Surely it's not a case of one or the other: 10 families want to do it and 850 don't. Surely thay can go ahead as best they can? It seems to be doing well in a school up the road from here (from what people tell me), but the parents at another local school, almost next door to me, don't do it. Instead I hear them complaining about the traffic. It's pathetic, really, that they do nothing to improve the quite bad situation on the narrow lane out here.

Walking bus - sad response - M.M

Walking bus....

Too many children concentrated into a stretch of road with a low adults to children ratio. Given an accident half a class could be wiped out. That's just for starters.

Here's a shortened/edited version of my thoughts from last month when we chewed this over....

Given any road network has a certain comfortable capacity then how do we decide who these *extra* selfish motorists are?

Is it the social visitor, the company rep, the school run Mums, the shop/office workers, delivery drivers, near empty buses?

Why do folks pick on the school run? There are better cases where people use their cars without regard to the "social harm".

Bank hols...huge levels of traffic caused by an excessive amount of folks going to the same places at the same time, often causing long delays and accidents. Perhaps folks with even house numbers should have outings on different days to those with odd numbers.

What about the sales reps based in Peterborough covering East Anglia on a daily basis, all belting along the same roads on the same days? Could they (4 in a group?) not meet up somewhere early am and share an agreed route, park in each city and walk to their various clients?

What about those that drive long distances at weekends to various club and social events just for their own indugence, that can't be right?

You see really all these trafic and motoring issues are not about *them* but *us*....collective thing.

My main gripe is the planning from our leaders over decades that has...

1) Not given us a decent network of roads on most popular routes.

2) Encouraged domestic and commercial development that makes car use building huge volumes of homes where everyone *has* to use a car to shop/work, building out of town shopping areas that you *have* to drive to.

3) Encouraged a way of doing business where local offices are closed and employees are forced to relocate (travel).

If you have to start somewhere I think poor business management puts a huge amount of vehicles over our road network every day with no good reason.

Walking bus - sad response - Baskerville
I take your point about the danger, but didn't we have large numbers of crossing patrols in the past? Couldn't we have them again? Fewer school run vehicles would certainly improve the (otherwise very high) quality of life around here. I am unable to leave my driveway during school run periods (about an hour in total each day) because the road is reduced to less than one lane: everyone, including large farm vehicles, drives on the pavement instead!

I quite agree with you that it's planning (or lack of it) that has caused this problem. In particular the construction of business parks at great distances from existing public transport routes and decent roads. The same applies to new build housing too.
Walking bus - sad response - BrianW
School crossing patrols can help, but they can also be part of the problem unless properly trained.
One road I come through in Tottenham has a very conciencious crossing patrol who gets the mums and kids (and anyone else in the vicinity) over the road without them having to wait, as soon as they are within spitting distance the traffic is duly stopped and over they go.
Trouble is, the resulting half mile tailback jams an exit roundabout off the North Circular Road.
If both kids and traffic were given a fair crack of the whip neither would be delayed by more than a few seconds.
Walking bus - sad response - HF
I do agree with Cockle that it's really sad that his school got this lack of response.

My son's school introduced this scheme recently too, but it is so localised that the 'walking bus' doesn't come anywhere near where we live.

If it did though, I would certainly give it some serious thought.

Of course parents have the right to use the road, but it would be a lot better from the kids' point of view for them to get that extra little bit of exercise, surely?

Walking bus - sad response - dieseldog
I start at 6am in my hgv each day,and am still working most days at 5pm or 6pm,(driving a Texaco tanker).
Your idea splodgeface is hair brained to say the least.
Your plan would see me start at 9am, break off 5pm to 6pm and finish work at 10pm!!!
Cheers!Some of us need to fit 60 plus hours in a week you know!
Walking bus - sad response - patpending
well cockle I wish more power to your elbow with this worthwhile scheme.

I know I always used to walk the 2-3 miles home from school or take the bus.

splodgeface, "discriminatory" is an inappropriately strong word causing offence to the over-18s!

the "school run" (when was that phrase coined I wonder?) has crept into our way of behaving and thinking to the extent that traffic volumes and congestion around schools are far higher during term time.

I saw a TV programme with a "school run" mother and a "white van" driver complaining about the traffic. I suppose the issue boils down to general respect for other road users and society's paying proper attention to road congestion - some van drivers act like maniacs and many large 4 wheel drive vehicles litter the pavements around posh primary schools, making it hard for other road users to get past, but that doesn't mean this minority of inconsiderate van drivers or these large vehicle drivers prove all "school run" mothers or van drivers are a Bad Thing.


However, I would not discriminate against a school whose hard-working pupils only leave at 6pm!

Walking bus - sad response - Andrew-T
With respect, Splodgeface, this isn't about rights, it's about feasibilities. Rights are of little use when they are impossible to exercise, and one person doing so prevents another doing the very same thing.
Walking bus - sad response - googolplex
So, Andrew, how do you put into practice a feasibility study when people have the right to do what they want regardless?

And dieseldog, apologies if you missed the joke. I was merely pointing out that parents have as much right to clog up the roads in town at 8.45am as a lorry driver has to clog up the M11 at 7.30am.

Walking bus - sad response - volvoman
The truth is that most people seem to want everyone ELSE to be responsible and modify their behaviour whilst being reluctant to do so too. In reality, many of the problems we face could be solved or mitigated if we all modified our behaviour and cut out a proportion of car journeys where it is practical and reasonable to do so. Whilst we all insist on exercisng our 'right' to do whatever we want with our cars, however, these problems will simply increase. It is not credible for anyone to argue that certain road users should be restricted whilst at the same time refusing to restrict their own use. Walking buses are a good idea and can alleviate congestion but whilst most of us demand the right to drive they'll never become popular and the chaos we see outside our shools will continue to get worse.
Walking bus - sad response - frostbite
Going off at a slight tangent, I wonder how the organisers handle the liability question in these litigious days?

If one of their charges is involved in and/or causes an accident, do they have public liability or other cover?
Walking bus - sad response - madf
Under current legislation anyone in charge should be vetted by the CRB.

If not and any injury then school is probably responsible.

If any kid walks in front of a lorry/car then adult in charge of a group could face persecution (see school trips eg)

Walking bus - sad response - cockle {P}
While I quite accept that there are many reasons that people drive their children to school and there are many different types of geography around the country that may make it necessary, the point remains that at our particular school very few come from a distance. Up until three or four years ago it certainly was not the type of school which attracted children from the 'leafier' areas of the town, in fact, it has one of the most deprived catchment areas in the county.
I certainly wouldn't hold up the 'walking bus' as an answer to the problem of congestion, just one of many things which may help to ease the situation, eventually.
What really irked me rather than the lack of response from other parents was the fact that the Council Road Safety Officer failed to attend, having accepted an invitation to do so, and ,as far as I am aware, without apology. Everyone has their right to either join in with the scheme or not, but the one person who is paid out of the Council Tax to facilitate these things doesn't.

As an aside the consequences of some schemes cannot be realised until after they have been implemented. In a nearby town the local council added a cyclepath to the footpath by dividing it up with a painted line, IMHO never a good idea anyway. This was to make it safer and more attractive for the older children to cycle to school; result, more cars at that particular school as many parents now believe it to be too hazardous for their younger children to share the pavement with the increased number of cyclists!

Time will tell whether the scheme gets off the ground and whether it is ultimately successful but at least we will have tried.


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