CHARITY ROLLS OUT SCHOOL ACTIVE TRAVEL HUBS TO HIGH SCHOOLS
Climate charity Forth Environment Link is opening two more school based active travel hubs following a successful pilot project in Alloa.
Since setting up Scotland’s first in-school active travel hub at Lornshill Academy in 2019, the charity has witnessed a significant increase in pupils walking or cycling to school.
A pupil travel survey undertaken in March 2022 showed that nearly half of students (47%) are now walking or cycling to school, with around a third (35%) travelling by bus and less than a fifth by car (18%). This compares to 38% of pupils choosing active ways to travel to school in 2019.
The survey also revealed greater cycling confidence and know how amongst pupils; the number of students who now think cycling is safe has increased by 22% and the number of pupils who now know a safe route to school by 17%.
On the back of the charity’s success at Lornshill, two new hubs are opening at Bannockburn High School and Alloa Academy.
Active Travel Development Manager Shirley Paterson said: “We’ve been working with Lornshill Academy for over three years now and in that time, we’ve witnessed first-hand the incredible impact that a school active travel hub has had on walking and cycling rates, as well as on pupil health and wellbeing.
“When we started just three pupils were cycling to school, now nearly half of students are choosing walking or cycling over the bus or car.
“The success of this intervention is proof that community-based hubs like this work. Making cycling and walking more visible every day means more people want to do it.
“We’re delighted to see the model being rolled out to more schools in Forth Valley and are keen to see hubs like this set up in secondary schools across Scotland.”
The Lornshill Academy Active Travel Hub project has seen 172 pupils given their own bike for free; as well as 196 pupils undergo bike safety and maintenance training to improve their biking confidence and abilities.
A free e-bike lending library has also been made available to senior pupils across all three high schools in Clackmannanshire.
Stuart Steel, principal teacher at Lornshill Academy, said: “The Active Travel Hub project with Forth Environment Link has brought about a positive change in our school and local communities' knowledge, attitudes and beliefs towards active travel.
“We have recorded a measurable increase in the number of short active travel journeys, thanks to ventures such as our P7 free bike project; our Dr Bike sessions; our successful e-bike borrow scheme; our weekly Clackmannan cycle bus and community cycle skills sessions that encourage complete newcomers to the world of cycling. All of these measures are successfully contributing towards a sustained increase in active travel.
“Our young people and staff are also benefiting from our Lornshill Bike Academy, with our one-to-one bike activities and weekly bike club. These are proving to be successful ventures, helping to support both the mental and physical wellbeing of our more vulnerable young people.”
Forth Environment Link’s two new school active travel hubs will build on the charity’s ongoing programme of outreach work with young people in Bannockburn and Alloa.
Forth Environment Link’s School Hub Project Officer Jodie Hutton said:
“We’re already working closely with both schools, helping deliver their summer programmes, health and wellbeing sessions and taking pupils on led walks and cycles.
“The new hubs in Bannockburn and Alloa will see the schools take the next step towards helping pupils develop healthy and sustainable active travel habits that we hope will last a lifetime.”
While pupils at Alloa Academy are already part of the annual ‘Clacks Schools Step Count Challenge,’ Health and Fitness Teacher Chris Jewell is excited about adding cycling to the mix.
He said: “We’re thrilled to welcome the Active Travel Hub to our school and are looking forward to seeing the impact of the range of projects we have planned for pupils. It’s an exciting time.”
He added: “With cycling being of huge interest to many of our pupils, we’re hoping to tap into this enthusiasm to benefit the school, environment and local community.”
The new Bannockburn High hub will complement the work already undertaken at the school, where pupils already have access to a school bikeshare fleet thanks to a previous Forth Environment Link project.
Headteacher Karen Hook said: "We’re delighted to be partnering with Forth Environment Link and Paths for All, to create our very own Active Travel Hub here in Bannockburn High School.
“The main aim of our hub will be to support and encourage our whole school community to use active forms of travel.
“We’re very proud to be part of this partnership work which will support our learning for sustainability agenda and have a lasting positive impact on our young people and the wider school community that we serve.”
The two new school Active Travel Hubs are funded by the Paths for All, Smarter Choices, Smarter Places fund.
Fund Manager Graham McQueen said:
“The Active Travel Hub at Lornshill Academy is a fantastic, well-established project that’s been really successful in encouraging and supporting the kids to travel actively to school.
“What’s even more encouraging is the way in which the success of this project is starting to be acknowledged and replicated by other schools.
“More projects like this will lead to more kids travelling actively and less car journeys around schools and this is great for their physical health, mental health and the environment.
“The Smarter Choices Smarter Places Open Fund is currently open for new applications and is available to other schools looking to replicate this fantastic project.”
To find out more about the Paths for All Open Fund click here