Encouraging more walking to school is being hampered by speeding drivers.

Research has found that ‘unsafe driving speeds’ are preventing parents and other adults from walking kids to school.

The new research is released for Walk to School Week.

Safer school run

Commissioned by Living Streets, the survey asked parents/carers of 5–11-year-olds about their attitudes towards walking to school.

Safety around school gates seemed a particular concern.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of mothers say they find it ‘very unsafe’.

Some 21% of respondents described ‘unsafe driving speeds’ as a major nuisance preventing them from walking kids to school.

Other reasons included a lack of safe crossings (25%), parents’ lack of time (25%) and cars/vehicles parked on the pavement (24%).

On the other side of the survey, parents and carers were also asked what benefits their child experiences from walking regularly.

Respondents answered physical health benefits (76%), improved wellbeing (64%), quality time spent with family (62%) and improved road safety skills (58%).

Encouraging activity

More than 280,000 children across the UK celebrated 2024 Walk to School Week (20-24 May).

Families are encouraged to walk, wheel, cycle, scoot or ‘Park and Stride’ for the whole week.

It hoped the experience will help them ‘see the big differences that come from small steps’.

Living Streets who organise the annual event believe it encourages healthier and happier children, whilst reducing the number of cars on local roads and outside the school gates.

Working week

This year’s challenge, The Magic of Walking, encourages children to travel actively to school every day of the week.

Meeting various magical beings along the way, children will learn about how active travel benefits individuals, communities and the planet.

“Getting out of the front door in the morning with kids can be hectic,” says Katherine Holcroft, Living Streets.

“It’s no surprise that parents say a lack of time stops them from walking to school. However, walking can actually save families time by swapping the last ten minutes sitting in traffic for a walk instead.

“Walk to School Week is a great opportunity for families to give it a go. And with more people walking, rather than driving, there will be fewer speeding vehicles and cars blocking pavements – making it even easier and more pleasant to walk to school.”