Walk to School Week – a small step to a better life for all

By our active travel correspondent Katie Crowe

As we enter Walk to School Week, and look ahead to Clean Air Day on Thursday 8th October, I thought it would be good to assess where we are now and what the next steps might be for our local area.

Following lockdown, it’s widely acknowledged that we, as a community, cannot allow life to return to how it was. We all got to experience cleaner air and a new way of moving around. Even pre-Covid we faced an environmental catastrophe, there were critical levels of localised pollution1, and we were already in a serious health crisis (obesity)2.

Department for Transport graphic – click to enlarge

The Government’s insistence that councils look to improve infrastructure for active travel modes is covered at length already, so I won’t cover this again. But ultimately, the local Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (in Crystal Palace and South Norwood) were just the start of this new approach to local travel.

It’s not just about pollution, although that is, of course, an important aspect of changing modes of travel. It’s also about encouraging more activity in our day-to-day lives (we now know that obesity is a contributing factor in those that suffer the worst effects of the Coronavirus).

Where next?

Croydon Council should be applauded for their bold steps to improve the lives of their residents and businesses. No doubt there are certain aspects where we can be critical of the implementation and communication, but overall, they are on the right lines. The new measures going in at Broad Green, as well as more filtering in the roads off Albert Road, are a sign that they are taking the need to provide for people over the private car very seriously.

As a community group, CP LTN are already starting to discuss where else we would like to see improvements. Just within the immediate vicinity of Crystal Palace, the area around Upper Norwood Rec and neighbourhoods around Grangewood Park would make for obvious new LTNs.

We will continue to work with our friends over the border in Bromley to encourage them to reconsider how they allocate roadspace. Particularly, there are some excellent suggestions on this site as to how they might improve life for their own residents on the outskirts of the existing LTN.

There are certainly some interesting proposals for adding cycleways along Albemarle Road in Beckenham – if done properly this could really be revolutionary for Bromley so we remain hopeful!

Longer term, wouldn’t it be wonderful if all children AND adults could benefit from safe and direct routes around their community? We all gain from improved air quality, and the physical and mental health advantages mean that we are better placed to deal with future pandemics. This isn’t an unrealistic dream; we can make this happen if we want a better life.

1Air Pollution costs the UK economy £20 billion

2Obesity costs the UK economy £27 billion

One thought on “Walk to School Week – a small step to a better life for all

  1. When I was young we walked to school, from the age of five, and I cannot understand why parents now feel the need to take their overweight, exercise-deprived children to school by car. But if we’re talking about closing down access to roads, then I beg to differ: a camera-controlled, residents/business-access only, yes – total blocks, NO.


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