Christmas comes early for the growing number of young people cycling, walking and wheeling to school
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD, alongside the NTA and Santa Claus, in announcing that 108 schools will be included in the Safe Routes to School Programme.
The Safe Routes to School Programme aims to create safer walking and cycling routes within communities, alleviate congestion at the school gates and increase the number of students who walk or cycle to school by providing improvements to walking and cycling facilities. The launch of the second round of the programme today will see over 37,000 students across Ireland benefit from safer infrastructure and encourage them to cycle, walk and wheel to school.
Speaking from her home county of Galway at the launch of round two of the Safe Routes to School Programme, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD said: “I am delighted to be able to bring some festive cheer to schools nationwide by confirming that thousands of more children nationwide will soon benefit from safer infrastructure which will allow them to walk, cycle and scoot to school every day.
In recent months I have had the privilege of visiting schools across the country and have seen first-hand the positive impact that Safe Routes to School projects are having on our children’s daily lives. During these visits the message was loud and clear that there is a huge appetite for the continued rollout of the Safe Routes to School Programme in our villages, towns, and cities across the country. Now, having secured the necessary funding as part of Budget 2023, it is great to see the programme continue to go from strength to strength. My ambition is that every child in Ireland will have the option to make their daily commute to the classroom by foot, bicycle or scooter in a way that they are safe and protected; one that I am confident is shared amongst children, their parents, teachers and the wider school community“.
Concluding, Minister Naughton said “I want to thank all of the children that are joining us here today in Scoil Fursa, Galway City, for their help in sharing the good news with other boys and girls across the country. Special thanks also to Santa Clause for taking time out of his busy schedule to be here with us this this morning”.
CEO of the NTA, Anne Graham said: “The National Transport Authority is responsible for ensuring the successful delivery of Safe Routes to School projects right across the country. Our Active Travel team is already working closely with local authorities on the rollout of the Round 1 schemes, and it has been encouraging to see more young people cycling, walking/scooting to school as a result.
In collaboration with An Taisce Green-Schools and the local authorities, we will now begin working on delivering the second tranche of projects. By working with school communities at a local level to make journeys safer than ever before, we can continue encouraging young people to use more sustainable modes of transport”.
The programme is funded by the Department of Transport through the NTA and is supported by the Department of Education. An Taisce’s Green-Schools is co-ordinating the programme, while funding will be made available to local authorities which will play a key part in delivering the infrastructure. €20m has been allocated for projects included in Round 2 with the funds coming from each local authority’s annual allocation for Active Travel works.
In recent weeks, a number of schools that took part in Round 1 have started seeing their projects come to fruition including Limerick’s first School Street at An Mhodhscoil on O’Connell Ave in the city centre, and a new School Zone at Bunscoil Rinn an Chablaigh in Cobh, County Cork, creating a safer and calmer area to support children walking, cycling or scooting.