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Children call on highways to keep their Cambridge community safe

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More than 640 people have been badly hurt on Cambridgeshire’s roads while walking or cycling in the last six years and pupils at Milton Road Primary School say they have had enough.

Last Thursday they staged a day of action in support of safer streets around their school in north Cambridge.

The event, which coincided with the national Road Peace Challenge Week, was related to an ongoing road safety campaign led by the school’s Eco Citizens – an elected group of children whose job is to listen to the school community and help solve problems.

In February, the Eco Citizens began organising a campaign in response to numerous calls from local families for a safer environment around the school gate.

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Children created awareness-raising posters, parents shared filmed footage of their journeys to school and the Eco Citizens carried out regular surveys to identify how the mode of transport affects how safe people feel on the school run.

The community’s message was clear: families do not feel safe enough on their journeys to school along the crowded road space – particularly if they are walking, cycling, or scooting.

Cllr Alex Beckett, Richard Swift, and Rachel Wade at EcoCitizens talk with pupils


Cllr Alex Beckett, Richard Swift, and Rachel Wade at EcoCitizens talk with pupils

Inspired by what they had learnt, the Eco Citizens arranged chalked road markings around a key junction outside the school and created a series of short films to demonstrate the road safety problems facing children and their families.

This was shared with the school in an assembly which was attended by Councillor Alex Beckett, chair of the county council highways and transport committee as well as local councillors Richard Swift and Rachel Wade.

Afterwards, the councillors talked with the children about the issues they face, and Councillor Beckett shared his commitment to enabling more people to walk and cycle through the Cambridgeshire Active Travel Strategy.

In conversation with Councillor Beckett, headteacher Rachel Snape called on the authorities to prioritise the safety of children and their families.

Each morning in term time between 8:40 and 8:55, the school has 480 people arriving on foot, by bike or by scooter and about 40 cars, but there is insufficient space.

The community says it needs support to minimise conflict between cars and people walking, cycling, and scooting; this support needs to be through infrastructure rather than being reliant on volunteers to stand in strategic places.

Throughout the day, the number 645 featured as a reminder of the families who have been affected by serious collisions involving people walking or cycling in Cambridgeshire in the last six years.

One parent said: “The Combined Authority talk about their Vision Zero commitment [which aims to reduce road deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 50% in the next 7 years] but they’re just not making progress.

“Hundreds of children travel on foot, by bike or by scooter on the daily school run, so I can’t understand why safeguarding them isn’t a priority.’

Milton Road’s Eco Citizens now plan to explore options for the streets around their school at drop off and pick up time with a view to asking the councillors to commit to change.

The Eco Citizens were established when Milton Road Primary became a member of the Citizens UK organising committee and is developing its capability for community organising.

As part of this, they have engaged with other schools – many of whom have replied to say that they experience similar problems.

If you want to find out more, please contact them via the school office with Road Safety as your email title: office@miltonroad.cambs.sch.uk

Milton Road Primary School is a state-maintained school in Cambridge.

To find out more about the EcoCitizens, visit: www.miltonroadschool.org.uk/young-eco-citizens

 

 

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