The popular Active Streets for Schools and Ride or Walk to School programs will be expanded in this year’s ACT Budget to encourage more children to walk or ride some or all of the way to school for a number of Gungahlin schools.
Minister for Transport and Municipal Services Meegan Fitzharris has announced an investment of $2 million will be made in the 2016-17 Budget over four years to help get kids moving and encourage more active travel within our suburbs.
This will include the expansion of the Active Streets for Schools program over the next two years, the further roll out of the Ride or Walk to School program, the creation of a dedicated Schools Transport Co ordinator, and the resourcing of the Active Travel Office within the new Transport Canberra agency.
“We need to make riding and walking to school the norm in Canberra again, and this great range of initiatives, to be funded in this year’s ACT Budget, will help us do that,” said Minister Fitzharris.
“We will invest $1 million in the Active Streets for Schools program to make it easier and safer for children to ride or walk to school. Not only will this get kids active, but it will give parents peace of mind that the route to school is safe and easy to follow. It is also a fun way to get to and from school and helps alleviate some of the traffic congestion created by parents dropping kids off at the school gate.
“Active Streets for Schools is already working well in Macquarie, Macgregor, Latham and Mount Rogers primary schools. This $1 million investment will see each school in the expanded program get a major infrastructure investment boost to help make footpaths and bike paths safer and install signage so parents know they can drop off their child a couple of blocks away, and the walk will take five or ten minutes. It’s a great initiative and one I know schools are really excited about.”
In addition to the Active Streets for Schools program, Minister Fitzharris said the ACT Government will create a new Schools Transport Co-ordinator, who will be responsible for liaising with schools on all transport issues for government.
“Schools are busy places during drop off and pick up times, so having someone dedicated to liaising with schools and parents about transport issues will help to streamline processes and implement solutions.
“The Schools Transport Co-ordinator will work across government to provide an efficient and effective point of contact for school principals, parents and local residents. They will help to implement the Active Streets for Schools program and replicate innovative solutions found to be effective in one school in other schools with similar issues.”
Minister Fitzharris said the new Schools Transport Co-ordinator will also assist in working with ACT schools on the Ride and Walk to School Program under the Healthy Weight Initiative.
“This is a great program currently delivered by the Physical Activity Foundation. An investment of $125,000 will enable us to expand it to an additional 56 schools, bringing a total of 108 schools on board. The program makes bikes available to schools for students to use, offers basic bike maintenance lessons, and helps teach children some basic road rules and how to stay safe on the way to and from school.”
Finally the Active Travel Office will be provided a dedicated officer to sit within the new Transport Canberra agency to ensure active travel options are integrated with buses and light rail.
“Active travel is a priority for this government, and covers a range of initiatives including park and ride options, cycling and walking infrastructure. We want to make Canberra Australia’s cycling capital and most walkable city to help people stay active and healthy. A dedicated Active Travel Office within Transport Canberra is key to making this happen,” said Minister Fitzharris.
Minister for Education and Road Safety, Shane Rattenbury, said that these programs are really important to encourage kids to be active and get outdoors while supporting families to find safe, easy and accessible ways to get to school.
“The habits children develop during their formative years largely influence the type of lives they lead as adults so it is really important that we encourage young people to be healthy and active.
“In the short term, being physically active helps students to concentrate during class, enhances their capacity to learn and, in the longer term, healthier students tend to achieve higher levels of educational achievement.
“At a practical level, getting more students to walk or ride to school will improve traffic congestion around school zones and improve safety outcomes for everyone,” said Minister Rattenbury.
The Gungahlin schools that will be targeted for the Active Streets for Schools program include: Amaroo School and Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School, Harrison School and Mother Teresa Catholic Primary School, Palmerston District Primary School.