Fewer and fewer students are walking or biking to school nowadays. Long lineups of cars queue up along roads before and after school, and school parking lots need to be cordoned off multiple times a day to ensure there is enough space for school buses to get in and out.
The London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) hopes to change that by promoting Active School Travel so that more students walk and wheel to school each day.
“Walking or biking to school is a great way for kids to get a bit of exercise, while alleviating some traffic congestion around schools and helping the environment,” said Jacquie Davison, Superintendent of Business for the LDCSB. “Our team will be looking for safe route for students to travel, and help the schools get the information to families.”
In partnership with Southwestern Ontario Student Transportation Services, the newly created Travel Planner position has been filled for the two year project. The project is made possible through Ontario Active School Travel, a program of Green Communities Canada with financial support from the Government of Ontario. In addition to funding the program is providing new and improved resources, program development, training, coaching and other supports to partners in London and 11 other communities across the province.
In addition to supporting LDCSB schools who are interested in taking on a school travel planning initiative, the grant also provides additional funds for the City of London and Can-Bike as local partners. Schools already involved in travel planning will receive additional support through wayfinding signs, bike racks and promoting safe cycling practices.
Active school travel has numerous benefits, including health and fitness, a reduction in obesity, improved cognitive function and school performance, social development, an increase in independent mobility, increased happiness, reduced traffic and school zone congestion, reduced emissions, and improved air quality.