Simon O’Brien, Liverpool City Region’s walking and cycling commissioner, visited Bebington this week to try out new scooting and walking zones introduced outside two local schools.
The five and ten minute zones were set up to encourage more children to walk, scoot or cycle to school, as part of the By Ours Bebington project
The project, led by the charity Sustrans with Wirral Council, works with nine schools in the area, as well as residents and businesses, to redesign streets to be safer and healthier for everyone.
Simon met with children and teachers at Brackenwood Infant School, which has five and 10 minute walking and scooting zones around the school.
He visited nearby St Andrew’s Primary which has a five minute walking zone. Signs placed around the areas indicate the estimated walking or scooting time to walk or scoot to the school, and encourage families to leave the car at home.
Simon also dropped into Town Lane Infants School, where the reception children had recently done a scooter training session.
The new zones are part of a series of activities with school children and parents at all schools in the one square mile project area, to improve journeys to school.
By Ours Project officer Lou Henderson carried out training sessions in scooting and cycling to help children feel more confident on the scooters and bikes. She also held ‘active travel’ breakfasts to encourage families to try walking, scooting or cycling to school in the morning.
Children carried out surveys of their local streets to highlight what they like and what they would like to change. They highlighted problems with speeding traffic, pavement parking, lack of safe spaces to cross and litter as key issues that affected their streets on the way to and from school.
Schools worked with Lou to develop Travel Action Plans and to set out how they would improve their streets, and encourage more families to walk, cycle or scoot the school run. Children and parents took part in design sessions to help reimagine their streets.
The schools that took part include Brackenwood Infant and Junior Schools, St John Catholic Infant School, St Johns Catholic Junior School, Town Lane Infant School and St Andrews Primary School, as well as three local high schools, The Life Church after school group and the local Brownies.
Lou Henderson, By Ours project officer for Bebington said, “I’m very excited to see the walking and scooting zones in action. Children have worked really hard to look at the issues on their streets and how they can help to reduce traffic and make the streets feel safer. The walking and scooting zones are already helping families to rethink the school run and leave the car at home.”
Simon O Brien, walking and Cycling Commissioner for Liverpool City Region said, “What an amazing morning meeting the Teachers, Sustrans leader and most importantly the pupils of the primary schools of Bebington! Such enthusiasm and ideas about how we can make the spaces around our schools so much more pleasant with less traffic and more activity.”
Chris Mervyn, Headteacher at Brackenwood Infant School said, “Active travel is an incredibly important project to the children, families and staff at Brackenwood Infant School. Through the support of Sustrans and the Active Travel Officers, our children have been able to work with the Council to help to reduce the number of cars on our local roads and encourage more families to walk, scoot or cycle to our school.
“The installation of our new bike shelter is fantastic and even with the extra storage space we still need to find other places to park the children’s bikes and scooters. Our children continue to amaze us and we are incredibly proud of how proactive and determined they are to improve our local area even further.”
Sarah Macaskill, deputy head at Town Lane Infant School said, “It has been such a valuable opportunity to be part of the By Ours Bebington project and to work with Sustrans to create a safer, healthier community around our school. Our infant children have really benefited from the ‘Learn to scoot and ride’ sessions with Lou over the past year, and have been inspired to travel to school using their new found skills. We hope to benefit from a larger, covered bike and scooter storage soon to accommodate for the growing demand!”
Terri McCarthy, Deputy Head at St Andrews Primary School said, “The children and parents at St. Andrew’s are working hard to try and improve our local area, and they have a better understanding of the benefits of the five minute Walking Zone – both for our own health and well-being, and for the local environment. We still have a way to go however, as we have more cars than we would like, dropping off right outside of school, so it is important that we keep the momentum going.”
By Ours is a partnership project with Sustrans, Wirral Council and Liverpool City Region, funded by the Freshfield Foundation. It is one of three new pioneering community engagement projects in Liverpool City Region that are helping local people take action to deliver safer, healthier streets for everyone.
The whole community comes together to design a vibrant neighbourhood with cleaner air, where more people walk to shops and services, stop and chat to each other, and children can play out.
Businesses and residents in the area recently received a survey through their doors to gather views about what they like and dislike about their neighbourhood. The survey is now closed but people can continue to contribute their views via an online map.
There are three stages to this collaborative design process:
- views and ideas from residents, businesses and school gathered in survey
- Sustrans designers shape ideas into designs for local people to comment and improve
- Final designs are showcased at schools and street events
For more information and events look up www.by-ours-bebington.org.uk
Image: Simon O’Brien came to meet schools where children are travelling to school by foot or on scooter. Credit: Denis Oates/Sustrans