Belfast Telegraph

School wheels out new travel plan for its pupils

by Fiona Rutherford

A Dundonald primary school has managed to avoid putting a spoke in its new plan to get families out of their cars.

Around 200 children aged between seven and 11 cycled to Brooklands Primary School on Friday, June 25, for a free bike breakfast, to celebrate the launch of the school’s travel plan.

Stanton Sloan, chief executive of South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB), joined the feast before being presented with the plan, which has been in development since February 2010.

It focuses on ways to create a walking and cycling culture at the school, by running exciting events and activities to encourage children to choose to get to school under their own steam.

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has worked with the school since March 2009.

Events that have happened so far include, ‘Be Bright, Be Seen’ walk to school events, ‘I love my bike’ days, and a raffle ticket incentive scheme; each time a child walked or cycled to school from January to March 2010, they received a raffle ticket for a chance to win a new bike.

Jill Smyth, Sustrans Bike It officer for Belfast, has worked with the teachers, pupils and parents to encourage them to walk or cycle to school instead of using the car.

She said: “Brooklands is going to build on the success that it has already achieved by continuing to hold exciting, engaging events and activities for the children to get involved in. The school is extremely dedicated to changing the culture in the school, and I believe that the new travel plan will really work to support this.”

Sustrans’ work with the school is funded by SEELB. Stanton Sloan said: “The collaboration between SEELB, Sustrans and Brooklands Primary School will equip pupils involved in the scheme with the knowledge, skills and confidence to establish the habit of travel by foot and bike in early life.

“While the programme will benefit pupils’ health and education it will also assist in the reduction of traffic congestion in the area of the school as well as contributing to improving the environment.

“It is an enormous achievement that 200 pupils from Brooklands Primary School will cycle to school as part of this venture and that this will become a part of every day life in the years to come through the establishment of an exciting new school travel plan.”

Mr D McCartney, principal of the school, thanked Sustrans and the SEELB and added: “Not only have the activities held this year encouraged the children and the parents to change the way they travel to and from school, they’ve really been great fun too. All in all, we are creating a new culture amongst the school community, one which is healthier, cleaner — and safer.

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