PROJECTS aimed at encouraging pupils to walk or cycle to school have a valuable contribution to make to the curriculum and play a major part in developing a sense of citizenship.
Christine Twine, a development officer with Learning and Teaching Scotland, told a Glasgow conference on safer routes: "They may contribute to knowledge and understanding in subject areas like geography, biology or PE. They also provide opportunities to practise a range of inquiry skills or contribute to core skills such as communication, numeracy and problem-solving."
The conference was organised by Sustrans, a sustainable transport charity, and supported by Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Executive. Ms Twine said:
"What schools choose to develop will continue to depend on factors such as the skills and enthusiasm of the staff and other adults associated with the school, the availability of material and human resources and the relevance to the formal requirements for knowledge, understanding and skills outlined in curricular guidelines."
A call for schools to produce travel plans came from Paul Osborne, a project director for Sustrans: "There is a danger that lots of investment could go into safer routes outside the school but the school does nothing itself to promote walking and cycling."
Travel lans allow a school to set out its position on journeys to school and indicate ways in which walking and cycling can be promoted and car use reduced.
The conference heard from two schools that will benefit from the Executive's pound;5.2 million for local authorities to develop safer school routes. Portobello High in Edinburgh has produced a "Green Transport Plan" which includes rebuilding disused bicycle sheds.
Martin Downes, an S5 pupil, said: "The bike sheds are not used and pupils are discouraged from cycling to school. We want them to have the option and hope it will lead to people getting to school and exercising at the same time."
Pupils at Maryburgh primary in Dingwall are being encouraged to map walking and cycling routes to the school. Cathie Way, Highland road safety officer, acknowledged that convincing rural parents that pupils can walk and cycle safely can be difficult, but Carola Highet, aged 11, had the answer: "We will use pupil power to persuade the parents."
CYCLES AREN'T US
A primary school survey has found that only 0.15 per cent of Glasgow pupils cycle to school. Almost a third are driven by car and one in 20 uses the bus.
With almost three-quarters of pupils involved in the survey living a mile or less from school, 63 per cent get there on foot.