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Belfast Healthy Cities

Our vision is that Belfast is recognised globally
as a healthy, equitable and sustainable city

Healthy Cities 21st Century

Pupils form Walking Bus for Safe Travel to School

Belfast Healthy Cities has been working in partnership with the Ministerial Advisory Group (MAG), Department for Communities and schools in east Belfast to pilot ‘walking buses’.

We have been excited to work with Braniel Primary School who pioneered the walking bus model during early March. The children were delighted to be joined by the Chronicles of Narnia characters. The walking bus supported over 500 individual walking trips throughout the week, with the busiest morning involving approximately 150 children.         

The project involves a group of children walking together in the morning, supported by an adult at the front and at the back of the group, acting as the ‘driver, and ‘conductor’ of the walking bus. Braniel Primary School hoped that by providing the safe Walking Bus model, more pupils are encouraged to get out of the family car and walk to school.

The initiative builds on the success of walking buses in north Belfast, and is supported by the Community Active Travel programme funded by the Public Health Agency. A survey with parents and guardians of children attending the primary school highlighted the majority of children travel to school by car; the main road safety concern is too much traffic, and most parent and guardians were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the level of traffic congestion around the school in the mornings.

Joan Devlin, Chief Executive of Belfast Healthy Cities said:

“Walking is a great form of physical exercise for children, and helps to improve air quality through reduced car usage and improves road safety. The walking bus provides a safe and healthy way for children to get to school, and develops good long term habits. Supporting the schools to take part in the walking buses has been the result of collaboration across schools and agencies. We are grateful to all those involved in the initiative.”

Jonny Poole, a primary school teacher at Braniel Primary School added,

 “We really enjoyed having the walking buses in Braniel PS. It was a great opportunity for our children to kick off their school day in a fun, healthy way and they absolutely loved it! It also definitely reduced traffic congestion around the school, as parents were able to drop their children off at the ‘bus stops’ and their children could walk in safely for the rest of their journey. Win:Win!”

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