Active travel includes walking, cycling, running or other active modes of travel. The benefits of travelling actively include:
- healthier children
- improved behaviour and academic achievement
- cleaner air
- less congestion
Being active for health
According to the obesity, diet and physical activity report 2019 about 30% of year 6 children are categorised as either overweight or obese. Not doing enough physical activity is thought to be a factor in this. The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that children should do at least 60
minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day. The Jersey Children and Young People's Survey 2021 revealed that 82% of children and young people are not meeting this target. Travelling actively will help improve the health of children and young people.
Active travel also helps to improve mental health and wellbeing. Over half of
parents interviewed on behalf of charity Living Streets said that their child’s mood always
or sometimes improves after walking to school. The survey also found that almost half of the parents saw an
improvement in their child’s behaviour after they have been
Being active for the environment
Transport is Jersey's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about 44%. Road transport alone accounts for 28% of our on-island emissions. Finding ways to reduce the emissions from transport is important if we are to meet the net-zero targets set out in the Carbon Neutral Roadmap. The Sustainable Transport Policy looks at transport in the Island including active travel. An Active Travel Primary Evidence Base Report was published in December 2021.
What is the walking bus?
Adults escort a group of children walking on their journey to and from school. The 'bus' walks along a set route collecting children at set stops on the way at set times. An adult at the front acts as the driver.
What is the cycling crocodile?
The cycling crocodile is very similar to the walking bus. Adults escort a group of children cycling on their journey to and from school. The crocodile cycles along a set route collecting children at set stops on the way at set times. An adult at the front acts as the driver.
Both walking buses and cycling crocodiles usually depend on volunteer support. The number of adults needed depends on the number and needs of the children. Children are signed up in advance and a register sit taken so the leader knows how many adults are needed for each journey.
All volunteers must complete a DBS. Training should be provided.
Getting a school involved
If you are interested in setting up either a walking bus or a cycling crocodile start by speaking to the school's head teacher.
A letter should be sent out to parents:
- to gauge parental interest and support for the scheme
- for a lead walking bus operator, who will act as a point of contact for the walking bus or buses
- for volunteers to assist, this might be on a rota basis
- to find how many children would use the walking bus or cycling crocodile
For a cycling crocodile schools will set rules for joining. This might include a cycling assessment for children. Schools might ask that bicycles are checked over for safety before they can join.
Examples to help set up a scheme
For further information on how to set up a walking bus scheme:
Hampshire County Council school travel plans website
The Bright Kidz website
The WoW scheme (Walk once a week) UK
Schools might decided to offer a walking bus or cycling crocodile once a week rather than offering it every day. WoW is a simple scheme that enables schools and local authorities to promote walking to school throughout the entire school year. Children get badges when they walk at least once a week for a month.
Walk once a week on livingstreets website
The scheme can provide benefits to children, parents, the school and the community.
The walking bus:
- promotes healthy exercise
- develops pedestrian and social skills
- reduces traffic congestion around schools
- improves air quality
- reduces greenhouse gas emissions
- saves time for parents
- gives children independence, whilst in a safe environment