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AM welcomes safer routes to school consultation

call for respectMID AND WEST WALES Assembly Member, Rebecca Evans, has welcomed a new consultation aimed at providing safer routes to school.

The new consultation, launched by Transport Minister Edwina Hart, seeks views on new statutory guidance for risk assessing walked routes to school to improve the safety of children. It follows recommendations from the Assembly’s Children and Young People Committee – of which Mrs Evans is a member – and the Children’s Commissioner.

Launching the consultation, the Minister said: “I want to ensure children are able to walk to school safely. Together with our investment in the safe routes in communities programme, traffic calming measures around schools and training programmes such as Kerbcraft this guidance will help create an environment in which children can travel to school safely.

“We have listened to the concerns of the Children’s Commissioner and Assembly Members about the previous guidance and this revision addresses those issues. I would encourage children, parents and teachers to have their say on this important issue.”

The consultation focuses on improving the current risk assessment for walking routes to school. It will run until 7 February 2014. Further information is available on the Welsh Government website.

Mrs Evans, member of the Assembly’s Children and Young People Committee said: “The committee has previously looked into the need for safer routes to schools, hearing from parents, children’s groups, and education professionals.

“I am very pleased that the Minister has taken this forward, and I urge people to have their say and submit their view to the consultation.

“We are trying to encourage more children to walk to school as part of an active lifestyle, and it is imperative that we also keep them safe when doing so.”

Keith Towler, Children’s Commissioner for Wales said: “The Safety on Learner Transport (Wales) Measure 2011 is clearly focussed on promoting the welfare of and safeguarding of children and young people during their journeys to schools and other educational settings. Where a child or young person regards themselves as unsafe on a walked route to school, and suffers anxiety or stress as a result of this, they are less likely to be able to engage in and benefit from their right to education.

“That is why Welsh Government’s response to the concerns I have raised is so welcome. I look forward to the development of guidance that will ensure equal regard for the welfare of children and young people travelling to school on foot”.

The consultation has been launched on the first day of Road Safety Week, which aims to raise awareness of a number of issues around making our roads safer for drivers and pedestrians.

The Minister added: “Road Safety Week is an important opportunity to promote safer road use. The Welsh Government is committed to making our roads safer for drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. We recently published our road safety framework which sets-out how we will try to reduce the number of road traffic collisions, particularly those which result in serious and fatal injuries.

“There is also a lot of good work going on at a local level across Wales to improve safety for drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists and make them more aware of potential dangers. We will continue to support and work with our partners across Wales to deliver such schemes.”