Posted on 06/27/2012, 9:37 am, by mySteinbach

Pilot results show increase in active travel, decrease in traffic congestion around schools

Students around Manitoba, including Steinbach, are walking and biking more, thanks to their participation in the School Travel Planning project, which sought to reduce numbers of children being driven to and from school. Prior to starting the national pilot, it’s estimated 41 per cent of children across Canada were driven to school, based on new data from Canada Walks.

Green Action Centre’s Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) piloted School Travel Planning (STP) in 4 municipalities (Winnipeg, Thompson, Fisher River Cree Nation, and Steinbach) totaling twelve schools. Honoured with a Manitoba Planning Excellence Award earlier this year, School Travel Planning aims to get more families walking and wheeling to/from school by bringing together community stakeholders to identify barriers to active transportation for each school and develop a written action plan.

STP projects worked to improve street infrastructure, increase awareness of the benefits of active travel and establish walking and cycling groups. This translated into a 4-6 per cent increase in children walking to and from school provincially. As more improvements are made, numbers are expected to increase. Manitoba data also revealed 19 per cent of surveyed families reduced driving for the school trip, and parents noticed a corresponding decrease in traffic congestion by 19% around participating schools.

Randy Dueck, Assistant Superintendent for Hanover School Division likes what School Travel Planning has done for the children of Steinbach’s Woodlawn School saying “School Travel Planning is a process that has helped us to take a comprehensive look at improving the safety of our students as they travel to and from our schools. We have already responded with some specific improvements that include infrastructure improvements made by the city. Without the data from School Travel Planning we would have experienced greater difficulty in achieving these improvements.”

Hanover School Division saw such value in School Travel Planning that it was expanded to the communities of Niverville and Landmark also,”I am convinced the students in all three communities that have participated in this process are safer today than they were prior to School Travel Planning. School Travel Planning has already proven its value in helping us to resolve some of the student traffic challenges we face.”

“We celebrate every family who chooses to walk, even if they can’t do it all the time” says Shoni Litinsky, ASRTS for Green Action Centre. “Breaking up sedentary time for children is key to bringing down rates of obesity, chronic illness and some cancers and when we leave the cars at home our communities become more connected and we have cleaner air. ASRTS in Manitoba believes so strongly in School Travel Planning we’re leading the nation in building capacity by delivering training workshops and building an iPad app that will expand data collection capability.”