How to Stop.Swap.GO! to school or college
Here’s a whole bunch of information and advice on how to get you and your children walking, scooting or cycling during the school or college run.
Ditching the car will help your children get some fresh air, grow their confidence and help them learn how to plan trips. Plus, it’ll help you keep clear of traffic jams and delays that are only going to become worse come school time!
Stop making car trips to the school or college gates
Swap them to cycling, walking or scooting, at least part of the way
GO! and get them to school or college on time with less annoying traffic
However, if your child is feeling anxious about returning to school or college, there is help available. Essex County Council provides back to school advice and guidance including support from local organisations. This can help children, young people and parents feel confident about returning to school.
Stop – rethink getting to school or college
This September will be the first time back to school or college for many children and young people since the start of the pandemic. Others might have been attending on a part-time basis or using staggered start times.
Buses have less space as they’ve been told to maintain social distancing, so they’ll be picking fewer passengers up. The bus companies don’t have lots of spare buses they can run. This means your child will be waiting longer and could end up late for school. We don’t want that!
Driving them to school or college might not be a good option either. Now that fewer children will be able to take the bus, those parents might decide to drive their children to school. That’ll mean busier roads right around our schools and a lot more time in traffic.
So there’s never been a better time to swap to walking, cycling or scooting. It will help your child stay active, help the environment, and give you all time back in your day. With new cycle paths, pedestrianised zones and reduced speed limits across towns in Essex, it’s definitely the way to GO!
Swap – to cycling, walking, or scooting
It really is super easy to get out of the car and onto better ways of getting to school. Here’s some advice for overcoming those first hurdles to swapping.
‘We live too far to walk, cycle, or scoot’
That’s okay! Your best bet would be to drive to one of the drop-off points that you can find on our maps. We're working on maps to show suggested drop-off and pick-up points for secondary schools and colleges in Essex and will add these over the summer. We’ve tried and tested them and they’re the best bet to help you avoid the traffic and get your children to school on time.
‘My children always get the bus’
The latest government guidance on school transport says that bus operators need to limit the number of people on board, to maintain social distancing, and most over the age of 11 will need to wear masks. We all know how packed the buses can get during a school run. If you live close enough to the school or college then a swap to cycling or walking in is your best bet. This avoids waiting a long time to get a space on the bus. The same goes coming home from school. Check with local bus operators for more information.
‘I just drive my children to school’
There’s no better way to save money and get your children healthier on the school or college run than scooting, cycling or walking to school! One upside of the current crisis is that roads have been quieter, and we’ve had more time to try new ways of getting about. Check out our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to see how people have been getting around Essex. Give your child the chance to breathe cleaner air, learn how to get around without you, and spend time with their friends. All whilst you avoid the traffic which could make them late.
‘It isn’t safe for my child to walk, cycle or scoot’
There are plenty of things you can do to make your child safer on the roads. Safer Essex Roads Partnership offers road and bike safety lessons to give your child the skills they need to handle their trip to school or college. They’re great for getting children used to the roads in a safe way. You could even spend a bit of time taking the route with your family over summer, so everyone can feel comfortable and safe.
GO! – what to do from now until school starts
Plan your route
Use our maps that are specific to your route, or think about how to get from your front door to school or college. Google Maps is another great place to start. You’re looking for things like quiet roads, good crossing points, and well-lit areas.
Try out your route
Experiment with routes whilst it isn’t busy. You should look out for things like where road crossings are, street lighting (unfortunately it won’t be summer forever!), and where the entrances to your school or college are. This’ll help you make sure your plan works or you can change it if you need. You can also work out that your child will get to school or college on time. If you’re planning to drive to a drop-off point, it’d be good to drive there to see how easy it is to pull in and get the bike or scooter out of the car.
Get your kit together
If you’re cycling, take your bike to a local bike shop to make sure it’s in working order The government recently launched a cycling scheme which means you can get £50 off the price of a repair now. Grab yourself a good bike lock, front and rear lights, a helmet, and a bell. All these will keep your child and their bike safe. Don’t forget a waterproof and a drink to keep them dry and hydrated.If you’re walking in, that’s a little easier. A nice comfy pair of shoes and a rucksack, along with the waterproof and drink again.
Get ready for the first day back
Pack bags, set alarms, go back over the route, pump them tyres, see if they’re meeting up with people (socially distanced of course!) en route. Doing everything to make day one the easiest it can be means you’re more likely to keep the swap going and make a difference to climate change and your child’s wellbeing.