School Travel Plans

This measure was provided by AUSTRIAN MOBILITY RESEARCH (AMOR) in 2014 under the CH4LLENGE project, financed by the European Commission.


School Travel Plans, or School Mobility Management (SMM) consists of a whole range of measures that primarily aim to change mobility behaviour of pupils and parents for trips to and from schools – mainly by reducing car travel. On a secondary level, it aims to achieve safe ways to school, healthier pupils, an increase of awareness about sustainable mobility and for the long term, a general shift of mobility behaviour and attitudes about mobility.

SMM components are mobility education, mobility games, concepts to use modes other than car such as a walking bus or a cycle train. SMM also includes accompanying measures such as safe and secure parking facilities, lockers, time staggering of school starting times, specially protected school zones, etc.

The effect of implemented SMM measures depends on the existing traffic and transportation patterns of parents, pupils and staff as well as the traffic and land use situation in the school surroundings. The effects of systematic, multiyear, institutionalised mobility education and school mobility management can be a behavioural change not only for the journey to school, but generally for mobility, and also later in life. Further, this can also substantially change the attitudes of parents and move them to a more sustainable mobility behaviour. If applied to all schools in a city, it might thus even influence the modal split in a city to change more into the direction of sustainable modes.

The costs in comparison to infrastructure investments are relatively low and in this way SMM can be very efficient, much more efficient than infrastructure investments.

The main barriers for SMM are first, that is either not known or has very low priority with decision makers – emphasis is almost exclusively on infrastructure measures. Second, there is a competence problem: school departments are not responsible for traffic, while traffic and land use planning departments do not think about “soft” measures based on awareness – thus no financial provisions or measures or organisational provisions are made. Schools that do want to have SMM cannot find the finance and do not have to competence to organise it.

In summary, SMM is a very effective and economical measure package that for organisational and competence reasons is relatively seldom used.

Introduction

Background and objectives

Until a few decades ago most school children walked or bicycled to school. The portion of U.S.A. students who walked or biked to school has declined from 42% in 1969 to 13% in 2005 (McDonald 2005). The situation is very similar in Europe, for example in Great Britain the proportion of pupils carried to school by car has doubled from 1985-2000 (DfES 2003). Chauffeuring children to school often results in two vehicle trips, one to the school and one returning home, or four additional trips per day. Thus, travel to school represents up to 20% of peak period car travel in  urban areas (DfES 2003).

Many parents are afraid to allow children to walk or cycle, as they are concerned about traffic risk (Parusel and McLaren 2010) – this in spite of the fact that car driving (after motorcycling) is the mode of travel with the highest risk. As more and more parents are driving their children to the school, this leads to increased risk of accidents for all other pupils and congestion and dangerous situations in front of the school.

The trend also leads to children having no exercise during their trip to school and as a result being more restive while in school. The World Health Organisation thus recommends to have pupils walking and cycling to school – (WHO 2006).

The aim of MM at schools is to work against this trend by addressing these problems with a whole range of solutions, whereby the following objectives are achieved:

  • Safe ways to school
  • Reduction of car travel (including all effects derived from that:  less fuel usage, less dependency on oil imports, less emissions, less pollution, less cluttering of urban space, less accidents, lower mobility costs)
  • A healthier, more active way to school that allows children to move
  • An increase of pupils’ abilities to move in the city and on the way to school in a safe and autonomous way
  • A decreased load for parents
  • Managed traffic and parking around the schools
  • Cost reductions for school, parents, children
  • Spreading the ideas of mobility management and green mobility among students, teachers and parents and, in the long term, change their travel patterns.

Terminology

In general school mobility management (SMM) is a concept to promote sustainable modes of transportation in home-school-trips by changing travellers’ attitudes and behaviour. At the core of school mobility management are soft measures like information and communication as well as the implementation of awareness-raising campaigns with regard to walking, cycling or using public transport.

Examples of SMM measures are:

  • Mobility education: there is a broad range of mobility education, from very small general teaching units about transport or on awareness on safe ways to schools up to multi-year programmes for mobility education.
  • Mobility education should include Educational mobility games: these are often ideal for children to learn: - about their own mobility (see Traffic Snake Game), about how to move around in their own city (e.g. per bicycle, per public transport, or for a school outing).
  • Walking bus: A walking bus is a form of student transport for schoolchildren who, chaperoned by two adults (a "Driver" leads and a "conductor" follows), walk to school, in much the same way a school bus would drive them to school. Like a traditional bus, walking buses have a fixed route with designated "bus stops" and "pick up times" in which they pick up children.
  • Cycle train: A similar idea to the walking bus concept, the cycle train involves a group of parents and pupils cycling to school together.
  • Bicycle training: it involves learning “street skills”, road safety skills, but also agility on the bicycle – and it can come in many different formats.
  • Accompanying measures: safe and secure bicycle parking facilities, lockers, low car environment, time staggering of school start times, protected school zones, pupils’ stops… all these are often initiated through awareness programmes, through mobility education, but also through national, regional and local support programmes.

A well-known instrument to implement various mobility management measures at schools is the School Travel Plan (STP), in other languages it is also called a school mobility plan or school mobility management plan. An STP most often integrates a whole range of SMM actions and can be initiated by a school or by local, regional or national government. It is mostly a more systematic approach to the situation at a school that includes some form of travel survey and sets targets on mobility behaviour change.

Description

School Mobility Management can come in many forms – as a single measure for a single school, as a whole package of measures for a single school, or as a package of measures for schools of a city, a region or even a whole country. Depending on circumstances, it can be more or even exclusively oriented towards “soft” measures – mostly campaigns, information, education, but it can also include more infrastructural and organisational measures.

The initiative can come from traffic planners (often for safety reasons), from city planners, but also from education departments and even from teacher or parent associations. It is therefore advisable and quite common to integrate all persons affected: teachers, other school personnel, pupils and students as well as parents.

This often leads to rather unusual cooperations, and therefore it is often helpful to involve third parties that have special communicational skills as well as the proper knowledge about the subject, to organise or assist school mobility management and school mobility management planning.

To initiate school mobility management, it is useful, but not an absolute necessity, to make an analysis of existing mobility behaviour, the school surroundings and the mobility framework conditions such as infrastructure, mobility options for pupils (public transport, bicycle, walk, car) and the level of (un-)safety around schools. This can also be done in the framework of mobility education, when the pupils themselves do this analysis.

Governments should provide handbooks, checklists and financial incentives as well as financial support to get SMM going, as schools and parents are often quite interested but lack the financial means and the knowhow.

Why introduce School Mobility Management?

Schools participate in SMM for several reasons. The main drive is to improve accessibility to the school in a safer, healthier and more sustainable way and to reduce traffic problems outside the school gates. Another reason is to improve road and personal safety skills of the young children and to increase travel awareness of all school users.

School Mobility Management can increase “active transportation” (walking and cycling) and thus helps children become more physically active and make exercise become a regular habit, which provides significant health benefits. Walking and cycling to school is thus recommended by a great number of health institutions, amongst them the World Health Organisation (WHO 2006), the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC 2010) and most health ministries in Europe.

Walking and bicycling to school are also opportunities for children to explore their community, develop social skills, and experience increasing independence and responsibility as they become older (VTPI 2014).

For traffic planners and urban planners, school mobility management can be a very cost-effective way to reduce car travel and change attitudes of pupils, teachers and parents to be more favourable towards sustainable transport modes.

Demand impacts

The demand impacts of School Mobility Management will depend on the range of implemented SMM measures as well as the existing traffic and transportation patterns of parents, pupils and staff and the traffic and land use situation in the school surroundings. The key impact of the SMM measures will be a positive change in mobility behaviour, a rise in mobility competence and an increase in exercise during everyday life.

Responses and situations
Response Reduction in road traffic Expected in situations
Only relevant if school changes starting and closing times of the school (staggered closing times if schools are close together)
Not relevant for SMM
Not relevant for SMM
Substantial reduction of parents bringing children to school and collecting them when leaving school possible – if pupils go by themselves by public transport, or walk and cycle in groups, or come by car pool.
The percentage of children getting to school in an eco-friendly way can be raised significantly through SMM measures.
Not relevant for SMM
Not relevant for SMM
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Short and long run demand responses

A short term aim is to influence the mobility behaviour of pupils on their way to school and raise their general knowledge and awareness about mobility, especially the benefits of sustainable mobility. The effects of systematic, multiyear, institutionalised mobility education and school mobility management can be a behavioural change not only for the way to school, but generally for mobility, as well as later in life. Further, this can also substantially change the attitudes of parents and move them to a more sustainable mobility behaviour. If applied to all schools in a city, it might thus even influence the modal split in a city to change more into the direction of sustainable modes.

As such citywide programmes are rare it is very difficult to measure the long term effects due to the difficulty of long term evaluations and the separation of other effects, and there are thus no long term evaluation data.

Demand responses
Response 1st year 2-4 years 5 years 10+ years
  n/a n/a n/a n/a
  n/a n/a n/a n/a
 
 
  n/a n/a n/a n/a
  n/a n/a n/a n/a
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Supply impacts

As the chauffeuring of pupils to school by car can be 20% of the peak car travel volume, there is a massive potential for congestion reduction which would free capacity for road traffic.  However, no increases in supply result.

Financing requirements

Financing requirements are relatively low, if compared to infrastructure measures (e.g. the cost of one underground parking space (€40,000) can finance a city-wide SMM-Programme for a medium city – this is also the cost for a few metres of road or tram track). The problem lies more in the fact that schools do not have a budget for such actions, and that for traffic departments from cities, regions or nations it is uncommon to regularly finance such “soft” measures. In other words, it is often easier to finance a €20-million park and ride development than a €200,000 school mobility management programme – even if the latter is much more effective and does never induce additional car traffic.

Actions in schools for classes often cost only a few hundred Euros (City of Graz (2011), after a few rounds teachers can integrate them into their curricula. So many programmes only need initiation money and then a systematic, but low cost follow-up programme can be sufficient. The city of Graz finances bicycle training for all pupils of 10 years in their city (since 1995, about 28,000 children have been trained), this costs the city about 50,000 Euros per year – and is a fantastic awareness programme (see best practice and AMOR (2009).

Expected impact on key policy objectives

The direct purpose of SMM is to change travel behaviour of pupils, parents and staff, but also to change awareness about mobility within these groups and to achieve a long-lasting awareness for eco-friendly mobility behaviour. The costs in comparison to infrastructure investments are relatively low and in this way SMM can be very efficient. It always depends on the scale SMM is implemented and on local circumstances, of course.

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

  Less congestion as a result of reduced car use.
  SMM leads to less car traffic outside the school and is   a significant contribution to traffic-calming – more extensive projects can also lead to a complete change of the school surroundings
  The reduction of car trips to schools induces less air and noise pollution.
  When the status of coming to school through walking, cycling or public transport is raised – this leads to more equity and social inclusion.
  Going by car is the most dangerous mode of travel and also endangers other pupils. Less car traffic in the school neighbourhood increases the safety for those children that walk or cycle to school and makes children switch to safer modes than car travel.
  Not directly measurable, but fewer accidents, less pollution, healthier children should in principle lead to a more healthy economy.
  In comparison to infrastructure measures awareness raising campaigns are very efficient in terms of costs and sustainability.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected impact on problems

The impacts of SMM will vary according to the type and scale of measures implemented and according to local circumstances. In general, the positive impacts concern the reduction of traffic problems within the school area as well as the rise in mobility behaviour, safety and the health of children.

Contribution to alleviation of key problems

Problem

Scale of contribution

Comment

Congestion By increasing the number of children that travel to school in an eco-friendly way a reduction of the increased volume of traffic in front of schools can be achieved.
Community impacts By inspiring a long-lasting awareness for eco-friendly mobility behaviour.
By increasing the knowledge and skills of children to participate in traffic in a self-dependent manner.
Environmental damage Less car traffic leads to less environmental impact.
Poor accessibility Less car traffic means improved accessibility for other modes, especially walking and cycling.
Social and geographical disadvantage Less car traffic means improved accessibility for other modes, especially walking and cycling, and thus also for socially disadvantaged persons.
Accidents Raising the traffic safety for children will result in fewer accidents of children on their way to school.
Economic growth Not directly measurable, but fewer accidents, less pollution, healthier children should in principle lead to a more healthy economy.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected winners and losers

The main winners of the action programme are the children themselves. As a result of the established school mobility measures the ability of children to get to school in a safer, healthier and more sustainable way is improved. In addition children’s option to choose amongst different modes of transportation is increased which has an important impact on their future mobility behaviour. In the long run, SMM can contribute to make the city more attractive.

Schools will profit from the SMM action programme with regard to more traffic calming in the school area and increased security of access to the school area for children walking or cycling to school.

Parents will profit from the SMM action programme too because the actions carried out allow a reduction in parental attendance and in the necessity to chauffeur their children to school (and often many other places) and help them to rethink their own mobility behaviour.

Governments can achieve a substantial reduction of car travel and traffic problems and have a very effective mobility awareness programme at very low costs.

Contribution to objectives

Group

Winners/Losers

Comment

Large scale freight and commercial traffic

Some benefit as a result of reduced congestion.

Small businesses

Some benefit as a result of reduced congestion.

High income car-users

Some benefit as a result of reduced congestion.
Low income car-users with poor access to public transport Some benefit as a result of reduced congestion.

All existing public transport users

Reduced traffic volume will increase the supply of existing public transport.

People living adjacent to the area targeted

People living near schools may benefit from reduced congestion and reduced car traffic .

Cyclists including children

Cyclists should benefit from reduced congestion and reduced car traffic in school surroundings.

People at higher risk of health problems exacerbated by poor air quality

As a result of reduced traffic levels.

People making high value, important journeys

Some benefit as a result of reduced congestion.

The average car user

Some benefit as a result of reduced congestion.
= Weakest possible benefit = Strongest possible positive benefit
= Weakest possible negative benefit = Strongest possible negative benefit
= Neither wins nor loses

Barriers to implementation

The main barriers are organisational, financial and governmental:

  • Interested schools do not have the budget
  • In many cities, SMM is either not known or has very low priority with decision makers – emphasis is rather on infrastructure measures. It is not clear who is responsible for SMM: school departments are not responsible for traffic, while traffic and land use planning departments do not think about “soft” measures based on awareness – thus no financial provisions nor measures nor organisational provisions are made
  • SMM projects have to deal with a difficult and sensitive subject – reduction of car traffic and creating suitable alternatives – and with at least a fraction of parents and teachers that might be hostile to that goal. Tensions might run high. Also, schools are often not used to dealing with traffic departments or the police. To solve this, organisation- and communication-skills are needed.
Scale of barriers
Barrier Scale Comment
Legal Normally no legal problems – In case out-of-school activities take place conducted by third parties, pupils might not be insured against accidents – a special insurance needs to be bought for such occasions.
Finance In many cities, SMM is either not known or has very low priority with decision makers – emphasis is rather on infrastructure measures – thus no or only low financial provisions are made. Schools that are often quite interested in SMM measures do not have any budget for this and can often not get support from the city.
Governance In many cities, SMM is either not known or has very low priority with decision makers – emphasis is rather on infrastructure measures. It is not clear who is responsible: school departments do not take care about traffic, traffic and land use planning departments do not think about “soft” measures based on awareness.
Political acceptability SMM is generally well accepted.
Public and stakeholder acceptability SMM is generally well accepted.
Technical feasibility No technical problems, just organisational.
= Minimal barrier = Most significant barrier

Five quite diverse examples are described:

  1. Action programme for school mobility management in Graz, Austria
    This is a comprehensive package for school mobility management in the city of Graz in Austria that offers schools a broad range of options for mobility management, mobility education and mobility games – schools can pick their menu and get automatically financed by the city.
  2. Bicycle training in Graz, Austria
    Is a systematic training programme for pupils at the age of 10 that has successfully run over 20 years in the city of Graz, Austria, reached 28,000 pupils and won several awards.
  3. The Traffic Snake Game in Europe
    This is arguably the most successful and most popular mobility education game, applied in over 10 countries and thousands of schools. Meanwhile, a European network is being created.
  4. School Streets in Bolzano, Italy
    “School streets” are a temporary traffic block in a small zone around the school to enable safer ways to school. It has led to increased safety but also induced a change in travel behaviour and raised awareness about sustainable mobility.
  5. The cycle school. Kesgrave high school in Ipswich, UK
    The school with the highest share of cyclists in the UK as an inspiring example.


Action programme for school mobility management in Graz, Austria

The City of Graz, Department for Traffic and Traffic Planning, in the school year 2010/11 introduced a financial support model whereby schools can choose from up to 40 different school mobility management (SMM) activities for implementation. It offers the chance to increase the awareness of students, teachers and parents towards sustainable mobility solutions for the home-to-school trip.

As the SMM Action Programme was very successful the City of Graz repeats it every year. More than 8,800 pupils and 780 teachers were actively involved in the programme since the introduction and around 30,000 Euro has been provided for these activities per school year.

The aims of the project were clearly stated in advance:

  • Improve the ability of children to move around independently and simultaneously enhance health, self-sufficiency and the ability to learn.
  • Spread the ideas of mobility management and green mobility among students, teachers and parents and, in the long term, change their travel patterns.
  • Reduce traffic in the city, especially around schools by the implementation of sustainable transport.
  • Encourage children to travel to school independently by sustainable and environmentally friendly transport modes.
  • Provide information on the close relationship between mobility, environment and health.

By analogy to STPs the SMM Action Programme of the City of Graz is a package of actions to encourage safe, healthy and sustainable travel options. Contrary to the STP the action programme of Graz is not tailor-made for each school but offers a multifaceted portfolio of SMM measures from which schools can select their favoured activities.

  • The portfolio ranges from awareness-raising campaigns, safe walking/cycling courses, on-site visits and school trips to workshops and specific lessons concerning mobility issues. A firm budget is provided annually from the Department to give financial support to those schools that implement SMM actions. Each school gets a maximum financial contribution of 1500 Euro.
  • Guidelines that introduce up to 40 measures and activities which could be financially supported by the City were set up and are revised once a year. The guidelines act as a catalogue from which the schools can pick and choose their favoured school mobility management activities.
  • Each measure / activity is assessed with 2-10 points, depending on costs and efficiency in terms of active mobility. Schools that want to receive financial support have to introduce measures that add up to a minimum of 15 points. In order to be fully funded, they are also asked to conduct a survey among students and teachers, to collect comprehensive background information on their travel patterns.

The different SMM activities that are offered/described in the guideline and financially supported by the City include:

  • Awareness raising campaigns to stimulate young children (and their parents) to go to school in an environment-friendly, safe and healthy way (e.g. the popular Traffic Snake Game)
  • Bicycle actions (e.g. a bicycle lottery; guided bicycle trips in the city; school trips with the bicycle; test days for bicycle accessories or testing of PEDELECs for teachers)
  • Public transport actions (e.g. visits to PT terminals and maintenance stations; workshops on how to use buses and trams in a safety way; planning school and leisure trips with PT)
  • Workshops and lessons themed on eco-friendly mobility.

These 40 SMM activities are provided by 13 organisations from the mobility management, education, transport or health sectors.
The guidelines are handed out to 80 primary and secondary schools in Graz annually in January. Schools can choose their favoured measures and can send their proposal to the City. When financial support is guaranteed, the activities have to be carried out within one school year. Each implemented activity has to be assessed afterwards.

55 primary and schools applied for this support over a period of three years (2010 – 2013). In total 8,821 and 787 teachers were actively involved in the implementation of numerous SMM activities. Among the most popular activities was the Traffic Snake Game (around 990 participating children per year).

The SMM Action Programme has not been implemented for long enough to gauge a long term demand response. Apart from data collection on the participating schools the long-term demand responses were not evaluated.

The City of Graz draws up a budget of 30,000 – 40,000 Euro each year to fund the implementation of SMM activities. Each school gets a maximum financial contribution of 1,500 to 1,800 Euro per year.

Although there was a political change of the councillor from Green to Right Wing, the programme is so successful that it has continued since its inception in 2010.

More details in German language in the brochure: http://www.graz.at/cms/dokumente/10138885_2346678/3cd4dac9/Leitfaden_SMM_SJ-2011-12_web_end.pdf

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

  Car travel reduction, increased eco-mobility, raised awareness and long term effects are achieved at very low costs.
  Less car traffic outside the school is a significant contribution to traffic-calming at several schools, some schools have changed their school surroundings as part of the SMM-project.
  The reduction of car trips to schools induces less air and noise pollution.
  The status of coming to school through walking, cycling or public transport has been raised.
  Going by car is the most dangerous mode of travel and also endangers other pupils. Less car traffic in the school neighbourhood increases the safety for those children that walk or cycle to school and makes children switch to safer modes than car travel.
  Not directly measurable, but fewer accidents, less pollution, healthier children should in principle lead to a more healthy economy.
  The measures in Graz have been very efficient in terms of costs and sustainability.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

 

Contribution to alleviation of key problems

Problem

Scale of contribution

Comment

Congestion Car trips to school and congestion has been reduced at many schools.
Community impacts A long-lasting awareness of eco-friendly mobility behaviour and an increased knowledge and skills of children to participate in traffic in a self-dependent manner has been achieved.
Environmental damage Less car traffic has led to less environmental impact.
Poor accessibility Accessibility for other modes, especially walking and cycling, has been improved.
Social and geographical disadvantage Less car traffic means improved accessibility for other modes, especially walking and cycling, and thus also for socially disadvantaged persons.
Accidents Raising the traffic safety for children has resulted in less accidents of children on their way to school.
Economic growth Not directly measurable, but fewer accidents, less pollution, healthier children should in principle lead to a more healthy economy.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Bicycle training in Graz, Austria

Is a systematic training programme for pupils at the age of 10 that has successfully run over 20 years in the city of Graz, Austria, reached 28,000 pupils and won several awards.

In Austria, only children aged 12 and over are allowed to ride the bicycle in real road traffic (without adult escort) unless they take a non-compulsory cycling exam at the age of 10. Austrian Mobility Research (FGM-AMOR) launched a school project in 1994 which aimed at conveying the basics of road traffic to the pupils in a in a real traffic environment.

The cycle training starts with a first test in the school courtyard: The children’s psychomotor abilities are tested. After this first test, the children practise riding the bike in real traffic conditions under the instructions of a trained team of cycle coaches. The training helps to enhance the children’s self-confidence and makes them responsible and conscientious road-users.

More than half of the children who participated in the training were able to improve their cycle skills. The children also learn that the bicycle is an environmentally sound mode of transport. A study on the long-time effects showed that 73% of all children who participated in the training in 1994 still use the bike as a regular means of transport.

The training has won the VCÖ mobility award and the SHIMANO concept cycling award. Since 1994, the concept has spread – in Graz alone 28,000 children have participated in the training.

More details can be found on the website: http://www.radfahrtraining.at/

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

  n/a
  n/a
  n/a
  The status of coming to school through cycling has been raised.
  Going by car is the most dangerous mode of travel and also endangers other pupils. Less car traffic in the school neighbourhood increases the safety for those children that walk or cycle to school and makes children switch to safer modes than car travel.
  Not directly measurable, but fewer accidents, less pollution, healthier children should in principle lead to a more healthy economy.
  The measures in Graz have been very efficient in terms of costs and sustainability.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

 

Contribution to alleviation of key problems

Problem

Scale of contribution

Comment

Congestion Car trips to school and congestion has been reduced at many schools.
Community impacts A long-lasting awareness of eco-friendly mobility behaviour and an increased knowledge and skills of children to participate in traffic in a self-dependent manner has been achieved.
Environmental damage Less car traffic has led to less environmental impact.
Poor accessibility Accessibility for other modes, especially cycling, has been improved
Social and geographical disadvantage Less car traffic means improved accessibility for other modes, especially walking and cycling, and thus also for socially disadvantaged persons.
Accidents Raising the traffic safety for children has resulted in less accidents of children on their way to school.
Economic growth Not directly measurable, but fewer accidents, less pollution, healthier children should in principle lead to a more healthy economy.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

The Traffic Snake Game in Europe

The Traffic Snake Game is a campaign to promote walking and cycling to school for children (aged 4-12), their parents and teachers. It was created by Mobiel 21 in Belgium and started out as a small campaign with only a handful of schools in Flanders, Belgium.

The principal setup is as follows:

  1. Two weeks before the game, each school establishes its baseline and sets its own targets for the behaviour change.
  2. For a period of two campaign weeks, children are educated about sustainable mobility and as a motivator for behaviour change receive a dot for every day they use a sustainable mode to travel to and from school.
  3. In class, children place the dots on a larger class sticker. The sticker is full when the predefined target has been reached.
  4. Classes then attach their sticker to the traffic snake banner. Children receive a reward when they reach a key point on the banner. Rewards might include: no homework, extra 15 minutes playtime, etc.
  5. When the children reach the end of the traffic snake banner, they can receive an even bigger reward for achieving the goals; a new bicycle shed, a walking or cycling tour, etc.
  6. Three weeks after the game ends, the results are evaluated and analysed.

Over the years, through cooperation partners and European projects, the TSG has become is the most successful and most popular mobility education game, applied in over 10 countries and hundreds of schools. Meanwhile, a European network is being created and 18 countries have signed up to play the game and take advantage of this successful strategy.

In Graz, Austria the, Traffic Snake Game is one of the main actions of the SMM-support programme (see case study 1) and an in-depth analysis of the sustainable effects of this action was carried out annually. The results:

  • Before the game 66% of the pupils where accompanied to school by their parents. Due to the Traffic Snake Game a reduction of 48% was achieved.
  • Significantly more children get to school together – the percentage increased sevenfold from 8% to 54%.
  • Moreover, the game significantly increased the social contacts of the pupils: the frequent walking and cycling pools, formed during the action week, also continued after the completion of the game.
  • Where children are concerned, the fun-factor plays a major role for the formation of such pools – when the way to school offers the possibility to meet friends and spend time together, it is fun and holds the potential for experience and action. Around three quarters of the children (74%) confirmed that the way to school was fun as a result of the Traffic Snake Game.

For more details see http://www.trafficsnakegame.eu/ and the results of the predecessor project CONNECT: http://www.schoolway.net/docs/CONNECT_booklet0.pdf
See also Traffic Snake Game case study in promotional activities.

School Streets in Bolzano, Italy

“School streets” are a temporary traffic block in a small zone around the school to enable safer ways to school.

Bolzano in Italy introduced school streets in 1986, and since then has continuously improved the practice. As a safety measure for children, the police initiated the measure that the street in front of the school is closed for car traffic for the 15 minutes before school starts and the 15 minutes after school ends. In the beginning there were heavy protests, especially from teachers (who could not arrive at school by car). Flexible exceptions were introduced (for example local residents can leave, but cannot access their houses by car), but have been handled restrictively.

Due to the success of the measure it has been maintained:

  • The number of injured children on the way to school has steadily declined to almost zero (as a side-remark: over 80% of injured children were brought to school by car!)(source presentation from Lieutenant Nives Fedel, 4 June 2014 at ENDURANCE network meeting in Graz, Austria)
  • The number of children brought to school by car or motorcycle is only 19% and still declining – the number of pupils cycling and going by bus is growing and the number of pupils walking is 46%.

It has led to increased safety but also induced a change in travel behaviour and raised awareness about sustainable mobility.

For more details, see:
http://eltis.org/index.php?id=13&lang1=en&study_id=2146
and the video: http://eltis.org/index.php?ID1=7&id=61&video_id=24

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

  n/a
  For a short time each day, streets are made “more livable” which can lead to a more long term change.
  n/a
  The status of coming to school through cycling and walking has been raised.
  Accidents have been substantially reduced.
  Not directly measurable, but fewer accidents, less pollution, healthier children should in principle lead to a more healthy economy.
  The measures in Bozen have been very efficient in terms of costs and sustainability.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

 

Contribution to alleviation of key problems

Problem

Scale of contribution

Comment

Congestion Car trips to school have been substantially reduced – but – there is a little bit of traffic problems around the schools during the “closed” time, although drivers have adapted.
Community impacts The measure is generally supported.
Environmental damage Less car traffic has led to less environmental impact.
Poor accessibility Accessibility for other modes, especially cycling and walking, has been improved.
Social and geographical disadvantage Less car traffic means improved accessibility for other modes, especially walking and cycling, and thus also for socially disadvantaged persons.
Accidents Raising the traffic safety for children has resulted in less accidents of children on their way to school.
Economic growth Not directly measurable, but fewer accidents, less pollution, healthier children should in principle lead to a more healthy economy.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

The cycle school. Kesgrave high school in Ipswich, UK

A combination of geography and a can-do philosophy have made Kesgrave high school on the outskirts of Ipswich a trailblazer for cycle-friendly schools – over 60% of pupils cycle to school in a country where the national average is below 25%! It is best described in this excerpt of an article from tesconnect, the largest network of teachers in the world (tes – think, educate, share, http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2169507) (McGavin 2008).

“When your dad is deputy head of your school it makes sense to travel as a family. Four to a car might even be a justifiable addition to the school run. But Brian Hawkins's three daughters alight several miles short of the school gates, where they call at a friend's house, pick up their bikes and cycle in together.

Felicity, Melissa and Anya Hawkins are not alone. On a normal day more than 700 of the 1,500 pupils at Kesgrave high school get there by bike. Mr Hawkins used to cycle in himself, until the family moved to a house 12 miles away from school. He can understand why his daughters prefer to pedal in. "One of the biggest factors is the social side of it; they cycle together, stop at friends' houses."

Kesgrave, an 11-18 comprehensive on the outskirts of Ipswich, has the highest proportion of cycling pupils in Britain, and the school has become something of a paragon for campaigners. The school enjoys several natural advantages which could account for cycling's popularity. Crucially, the Suffolk landscape is flat, and the still expanding housing estate nearby, where many of Kesgrave's pupils live, is well served with cycle ways (the farming families who sold the land for development were also school governors and stipulated this under the terms of the sale). The school, which opened in 1931, has a tradition of cycling. The original logbook records how in its early years senior children cycled "two or three miles to school", how the boys built a cycle shed for the girls, and that in 1945 the headteacher had to warn children "about the dangers on the road, in particular to cycle near the kerb and in single file".

The school's semi-rural catchment area is relatively compact. "The great virtue of Suffolk is that we are comprehensive and most kids go to their local school," says headteacher George Watson. Kesgrave's innovative three-period day has been a "significant contributory factor", too. "If kids only have to bring in one lot of PE kit and one lot of books, it makes cycling a lot less cumbersome," he says.

But it wasn't always so popular. When Brian Hawkins arrived 15 years ago, the school was much smaller and only 70 of the 700 pupils cycled in. Then the first local cycle paths were built, more and more pupils took to them, and soon the school was inundated.

"We had 200 bikes lying on the grass and we had to make a decision: do we encourage it, which was an expensive thing to do, or do we discourage it? It almost didn't work for us; parents would say, 'look at all those bikes lying around the place'. One of my first tasks was to get them round the back."

Grants totalling around £25,000 from the transport campaigners Sustrans, a local charity and the Department for Education and Skills have provided parking spaces for up to 800 bikes and lockers for every child.

Schools keen to encourage cycling need to do two things before all else, says Mr Hawkins: "Provide secure provision away from the front of the school, and have golden rules about behaviour with bikes."

The main rules at Kesgrave are: no cycling on school premises; everyone is responsible for the security of their own bike; and you can enter or exit school only by the subway under the A1214 outside, creating a procession of pushbikes that can take 20 minutes to pass at home time.

During the day, bikes cover whole swathes of tarmac around the school site.

The car park, by contrast, is tiny. For a school of its size, Kesgrave produces minimal traffic congestion, a fact that has aided its expansion in recent years. Earlier this term, the school's annual travel survey found that 755 cycle, 330 walk, 220 come by bus and just 215 come by car. Cycling is less popular among the staff, reaching a peak of about 15 out of some 120 in the summer months. "The kids are more hardy," says Mr Hawkins. Even the most inclement weather will only put off about 20 per cent of them.

There are few downsides to Kesgrave's cycling culture. In 15 years, there have been only around 10 thefts - the bike sheds are protected by 24-hour CCTV surveillance - and fewer than half a dozen accidents involving cars; Mr Hawkins can remember nothing more serious than a broken arm. "People in the community who use the local roads are cycle-aware because there are so many cyclists. You cannot come into the area without thinking bike. That has been a cultural change."

The benefits, on the other hand, are many. "We have a fit population and do well in sports," says George Watson. "Looking around, you don't see many obese kids." The school team recently came third in the national swimming championships and boasts county badminton and netball players.

That can't all be attributed to cycling, "but children who exercise regularly are more inclined to exercise - it's a virtuous circle", says Brian Hawkins. And it has a positive effect on schoolwork. "I don't believe a kid who gets out of bed, eats breakfast and then sits in a car will get to school feeling as fresh, healthy and ready to work as a kid who cycles to school," he adds.

There are some unexpected bonuses: no need to hire a coach for local outings (non cyclists can take the mini bus while everyone else goes by bike); transport home from after-school clubs is much less of an issue; and pupils are encouraged to make their own way to dentist and doctor appointments during the day. "Bike riding breeds independence," says George Watson.”

(Full article “Saddle Up” by Harvey McGavin also refers to national SusTrans programme: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2169507). By the way, while this is exceptional in the UK, in the Netherlands this is the norm: about 50% of all trips to school are by bike (http://www.fietsersbond.nl/de-feiten/verkeer-en-veiligheid/kinderen-en-veilig-fietsen/fietsen-kinderen-minder-dan-vroeger (in Dutch language).

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of contribution Comment
  Less congestion as a result of reduced car use.
  SMM leads to less car traffic outside the school and is   a significant contribution to traffic-calming – more extensive projects can also lead to a complete change of the school surroundings.
  The reduction of car trips to schools induces less air and noise pollution.
  When the status of coming to school through walking, cycling or public transport is raised – this leads to more equity and social inclusion.
  Going by car is the most dangerous mode of travel and also endangers other pupils. Less car traffic in the school neighbourhood increases the safety for those children that walk or cycle to school and makes children switch to safer modes than car travel.
  Not directly measurable, but less accidents, less pollution, healthier children should in principle lead to a more healthy economy.
  In comparison to infrastructure measures awareness raising campaigns are very efficient in terms of costs and sustainability.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Contribution to problems

Contribution to to alleviation of key problems
Objective Scale of contribution Comment
Congestion Less congestion as a result of reduced car use.
Community impacts By inspiring a long-lasting awareness for eco-friendly mobility behaviour.
By increasing the knowledge and skills of children to participate in traffic in a self-dependent manner.
Environmental damage Less car traffic leads to less environmental impact.
Poor accessibility Less car traffic means improved accessibility for other modes, especially walking and cycling.
Social and goegraphical disadvantage Less car traffic means improved accessibility for other modes, especially walking and cycling, and thus also for socially disadvantaged persons.
Accidents Raising the traffic safety for children will result in less accidents of children on their way to school.
Economic growth Not directly measurable, but fewer accidents, less pollution, healthier children should in principle lead to a more healthy economy.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Appropriate contexts

Appropriate area-types
Area type Suitability
City centre
Dense inner suburb
Medium density outer suburb
Less dense outer suburb
District centre
Corridor
Small town
Tourist town
= Least suitable area type = Most suitable area type

AMOR (2009), Austrian Mobility Research “15 years Bicycle Training for Children in a Real Traffic Environment!- A Story of Success!” http://www.radfahrtraining.at/docs/15_years_Bicycle_Training_under_real_conditions.pdf – more details in German language: http://www.radfahrtraining.at/

CDC (2010), “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Indicator Report on Physical Activity, 2010. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010”, http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/downloads/PA_State_Indicator_Report_2010.pdf

City of Graz (2011), Schulisches Mobilitätsmanagement, “Ein Leitfaden zur Stärkung der selbstständigen Mobilität“, Martin Kroissenbrunner, Margit Braun

DfT 2003, “Travelling to School: a good practice guide”
http://www.thepep.org/ClearingHouse/docfiles/dft_susttravel_023992.pdf

DfES (2003). “Travelling to School: an action plan” Department for Education and Skills
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130401151715/http://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/DFES-0520-2003.pdf

Jan Hoffman (2009), “Why Can’t She Walk To School” New York Times,(www.nytimes.com), 12 September 2009; at www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/fashion/13kids.html?pagewanted=all.

Noreen C. McDonald (2005), Children’s Travel: Patterns and Influences, dissertation, University of California Transportation Center (www.uctc.net); at www.uctc.net/papers/diss118.pdf

Harvey McGavin (2008), “Saddle Up” in tesconnect, the largest network of teachers in the world (tes – think, educate, share, http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2169507).

Sylvia Parusel and Arlene Tigar Mclaren (2010), “Cars before Kids: Automobility and the Illusion of School Traffic Safety,” Canadian Review of Sociology, Vol. 47, Issue 2, May, pp. 129-147; abstract at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1755-618X.2010.01227.x/abstract.

VTPI 2014 - Many text parts and resources are from the TDM Encyclopedia of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, section “School Transport Management - Encouraging Alternatives to Driving to School” but couldn’t be properly cited as they needed to be adapted to the European context.
http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm36.htm

WHO (World Health Organisation) (2006), “Physical activity and health in Europe: evidence for action”, edited by Nick Cavill, Sonja Kahlmeier and Francesca Racioppi, http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/87545/E89490.pdf