Sir Arthur Currie Public School, in partnership with Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) and the London Middlesex Road Safety Committee (LMRSC), kicked off the school year with an event that encouraged children to walk or wheel to school. The school, working with parents and the City of London, closed Buroak Drive between 8:40 a.m. to 9:05 a.m. to encourage everyone in the school community to travel actively to school from a nearby drop-off point.
“We are constantly looking for ways to build our students’ confidence in how they get to and from school,” says Sue Bruyns, Principal at Sir Arthur Currie Public School. “Working closely with ASRTS, we remain committed to educating our students on road safety, improving our surroundings and encouraging our students to try active modes of transportation.”
School Travel Planning at Sir Arthur Currie has increased awareness of the importance of active school travel. Foxfield Park was recently named the school’s new designated driver drop-off location, known as the “Coyote Drop Zone”. This area offers parents a place to drop off their children a short distance from the school, which promotes physical activity before the school day starts and helps make the area around the school safer by minimizing the number of cars entering the school area.
“We know that when a child is more physically active in the morning, their brains are better prepared to learn. Building safe active transportation into a child’s daily routine is not only great for their health, it also increases their readiness for school,” says Tara MacDaniel, Co-Chair of the London Middlesex Road Safety Committee and a Public Health Nurse at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “By walking, cycling or using a scooter to get to school, children are also helping to protect the environment and building their connection to the neighbourhoods where they live and learn.”
Through ASRTS, schools in London and Middlesex County, as well as St. Thomas, Elgin and Oxford counties, have been encouraged to host activities that inspire more children, and parents with younger children, to walk to school and to provide information about the benefits of choosing active travel. Parents and guardians can help increase their child’s comfort level travelling to school by selecting and practicing the route together, planning ahead to ensure students aren’t rushed and reviewing road safety tips early on.
“The City of London provides the technical support for the ASRTS program to address real or perceived safety concerns in the neighbourhood around the school,” says Doug MacRae, Director of Roads and Transportation at the City of London. “It’s a very interactive process; we go on walkabouts to review and discuss barriers that may stop someone from walking or cycling to school to help inform future road safety improvements.”
For example, in 2018, through the School Travel Planning Program, roundabouts were identified as a barrier to active travel to Sir Arthur Currie Public School. In response, the City worked with the school to install London’s first pedestrian crossover within a roundabout this summer. A new video and educational materials are being launched as part of this event to help students learn how to navigate the new infrastructure.
Over the last 10 years, the ASRTS program has worked with more than 40 elementary schools to eliminate or improve barriers with the ultimate goal of enhancing safe and active transportation options, and reducing traffic congestion around schools.