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Walk and cycle schemes make no significant difference, study finds

A #163;155 million scheme run by the Labour government to encourage children to walk or cycle to school has made "no significant difference", according to new research.

Similar numbers of pupils are still being driven to lessons by their parents, despite big spending projects ordered by politicians who wanted to reduce congestion and improve health.

The Travelling to School initiative was launched in 2003, but a report by consultancy Atkins commissioned by the Department for Transport and the Department for Education shows that hardly any more pupils travel by foot or bike.

Data from the School Census shows only a 1.5 per cent increase in the number of primary schools children walking between 200607 and 200809. Just 0.1 per cent more children cycled.

The evaluation report, published this week, said there was "no significant difference" between schools which received funding to promote greener travel and those not involved in the Travelling to School scheme. It says any improvements "cannot be linked" to the programme and it was "poor to low" value for money.

A similar evaluation by the Department for Transport's Operational Research Unit five years ago came to the same conclusions.

About 1,900 schools have benefited from funding. Primary schools have received #163;5,000 and secondaries #163;10,000 for "capital" improvements such as bike sheds. The money has also paid for regional school travel curriculum advisers, school and regional school travel advisers, and government initiatives such as Walk to School, Healthy Schools, Eco Schools and Bikeability.

Paul Osborne, director of school travel for Sustrans, said: "Ending the funding of the school travel initiative will see an end to much of the good work begun by schools up and down the country."

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