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Walk or Wheel Wednesday a challenge for change

10 October 2008

Walk or Wheel Wednesday starting October 15 gives parents and pupils a chance to change old habits and improve road safety and fitness.


Approximately 9,500 students will choose to either walk, cycle or scooter to school for the next eight Wednesdays, helping to reduce school based traffic congestion and increasing road safety.


Christchurch City Council Schools Coordinator Joy Kingsbury, said the challenge has run for the past five years and is increasing in popularity with five new schools participating this year taking the total number of schools to 34.


An average 79% of children in participating schools walk or cycle to school during the challenge each term.


 “For the first time this year, all the Lyttelton schools will be participating, and given the steep terrain this will be a big challenge for the pupils.”


The challenge has been such a success that both Waimairi and Westburn Schools have incorporated into their school travel plans running Walk or Wheel Wednesdays all year round.


Waimairi School in particular has taken big steps towards increasing road safety and is showing that their alternative travel plan is a safer and smarter way to get to school.


Since 2004, Waimairi School has reduced their car travel to school by 20%, a dramatic reduction compared to other schools in the area.


The Waimairi School travel plan which was developed in 2005 began in response to parents’ concerns about safety issues and traffic congestions at school gates.


Waimairi School Travel Plan Coordinator Jackie Pithie said “the aim was to promote alternatives to car travel for journeys to and from school and to help reduce traffic congestion, while also addressing safety concerns”.


A recent study of travel choices for Christchurch primary school pupils found nearly twice as many children walk or use scooters at Waimairi compared with other local schools.


Over 60% of Waimairi school students choose to scooter to school on a regular basis compared to just over 30% of students at another 20 surveyed schools.


The Waimairi School Travel Plan has achieved a steady change in pupil’s travel choices to school, what the Walk or Wheel Wednesday challenge actively promotes.


Christchurch City Council has supported the Waimairi School Travel Plan by installing a 40km/hr school zone on Blighs Road and moving the pedestrian crossing on Blighs Road to a safer location.


Walk or Wheel Wednesday aims to reduce traffic and chaos at school gates; reduce car emissions around children; increase road safety around pedestrian crossings; and encourage fitness and healthy habits for children.


Walk or Wheel Wednesday has left a positive influence on those who participated in the challenge to continue to walk or wheel to school more often.

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