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'Woeful' that 67% of children in NI driven to classes in car


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Two-thirds of Northern Ireland's primary school pupils were driven to school during the past year - despite half living a mile or less from the  gates

Two-thirds of Northern Ireland's primary school pupils were driven to school during the past year - despite half living a mile or less from the gates

PA Archive/PA Images

Two-thirds of Northern Ireland's primary school pupils were driven to school during the past year - despite half living a mile or less from the gates

Two-thirds of Northern Ireland's primary school pupils were driven to school during the past year - despite half living a mile or less from the gates.

The statistics were contained in the latest transport study of how children get to school, published by the Department for Infrastructure yesterday.

Just over two-thirds (67%) of primary pupils were driven to school by car - a slight increase on 2017-18 at 65% - while 22% usually walked.

The findings have been met with disappointment from a leading sustainable transport charity, which described the figures as "truly woeful".

Over a quarter (27%) of primary school pupils spent 10 minutes or less walking to and from school, while 28% spent more than 30 minutes.

Around three in five of primary pupils who walked to and from school did so every day.

The report also found 9% of young children travel by bus, while 1% cycled to and/or from school, results which are broadly in line with the study's 2017-18 findings.

For secondary pupils, almost half (48%) made their school journeys by bus, with 35% travelling by car. Around one in seven (14%) post-primary pupils walked, while a small proportion took the train (2%).

Since 2013-14 the proportion of primary school pupils walking to school has decreased from 31% to 22%, while conversely the share of those travelling by car has jumped from 59% to 67%.

Over the same period, the proportion of secondary school pupils who walked to school dropped significantly from 22% to 14%. There has, however, been no real change in travel by bicycle, car or bus.

Anne Madden from Sustrans NI said these latest statistics make for pessimistic reading.

"The figures showing how increasing numbers of schoolchildren are being driven to school in Northern Ireland are truly woeful," she said.

"The fact that the number of primary school children being driven has risen from 59% to 67% since 2013/14 shows that we, as a society, have a lot more to do.

"We know from our surveys that road safety is the main reason why parents drive their children to school, but these same parents are adding to congestion and air pollution at the school gates."

Ms Madden said investment needed to be made to improve footpaths and traffic crossings to encourage less reliance on cars for school journeys.

Despite half of primary pupils living a mile or less from their school, 54% of them are driven to their place of education. Ms Madden said it was a "very walkable distance".

"Walking or cycling to school is a simple way of incorporating more exercise into a child's daily routine," she added.

Percentage of primary-aged pupils who spent 10 minutes or less walking to and from school

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