A new Travel Plan for Wakefield School may be the first of many to encourage pupils to attend school by foot or on wheels, helping them stay active while reducing traffic and pollution.
Launched on September 21, 2020, the plan is supported by Tasman District Council and was developed with road cycling instructor and bike advocate Clare Scott of Easy Street Cycling. Council partnerships and education officer Nichola Brydon hopes that as an Enviroschool, Wakefield will be a case study for others in the region by embracing active transport and educating kids and families on road safety.
“It’s a whole-school approach including the school community and the parents, and that’s how they are going to create behaviour change – through empowering and encouraging people to use active travel to get to school.” Nichola Brydon, Tasman District Council
A recent survey showed about 30 per cent of pupils currently walk or bike to school, and Wakefield School principal Peter Verstappen says the team is aiming to increase those numbers, with plenty of creative options and incentives available.
“We have a lot of rural families for whom the car is a must, but what we are offering them is if they can’t reasonably bike or walk to school, pick a point in the village where it’s safe to drop your children off and then they can walk from there. That will also help declutter the school carpark.” – Peter Verstappen, Wakefield School Principal
One long-term issue for children attending Wakefield School is busy State Highway 6, which runs through the village.
“We have a group of parents and myself who are pretty fired up about making some improvements to safety in the highway, which is a barrier to half the population that lives on the other side of the road,” Peter Verstappen, Wakefield School Principal
The Council is supportive of the school and parents’ concerns, and staff are encouraging the state highway operator Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to complete a safety assessment and prioritise improvements for pedestrians.