MOBI-O encourages parents to look to active and public transportation for their children's travel
As uncertainty looms over school transportation and parents are encouraged to find alternative solutions for the upcoming school year, MOBI-O is encouraging parents to look to active and public transportation to get their children to school. According to the Centre de gestion des déplacements de l'Outaouais, the current situation must be an opportunity for parents to evaluate other alternatives than simply bringing their child to school by car. For the past 6 years, MOBI-O has been working to encourage active transportation among elementary school students to reverse the trend of the past decades through the Walk or Bike to School campaign.
In 1971, 80% of 7- and 8-year-olds walked or biked to school, while only 40% of them used active transportation in 2005 (INSPQ, 2010). This is a troubling finding considering that in addition to being a sustainable mode of transportation, active transportation offers several advantages. It contributes to reaching the recommendations in terms of physical activity for young people and it is an opportunity to socialize, discover and appropriate one's neighbourhood, while developing one's autonomy.
Regardless of the location of the children, many solutions exist, and measures have been put in place to ensure their safety in various neighbourhoods: crossing guards for adults and children, trottibus (organized group of children walking with a responsible volunteer), cyclobus (organized group of children cycling with a responsible volunteer), educational programs on road safety, etc.
For children located further away from the school (more than 1.6 km), there are also several options. Parents can accompany their children by bicycle (distances of 5 km or less), accompany them by public transit or, if none of these options are available, drop their children off a few hundred metres from the school on the school corridor where there are crossing guards.
These options are preferable to bringing them to the door and increasing traffic around the school. In addition, parents can talk to each other and arrange to carpool and limit the number of cars on the roads and near the school.
Safety around schools
The virtuous circle of active transportation and the vicious circle of the automobile
According to MOBI-O, the current situation may contribute to many parents deciding to drive their children directly to school, rather than considering other options.
This situation would lead to a vicious circle that contributes to compromising the safety of travel around schools. According to analyses by the Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ), parents' perception of dangers on the street leads them to drive their children home, which increases traffic around the school and increases the risk of accidents for children who use active transportation.
Instead, promoting solutions such as active and public transportation creates a virtuous circle that reduces the number of cars on the road and increases the safety of children's travel around schools. (Translated)
General Manager of MOBI-O